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Phoenix brings five-game winning streak into Tampa

by Adam Kimelman
COYOTES (42-22-5) at LIGHTNING (28-28-12)

Last 10:
Phoenix 7-3-0; Tampa Bay 2-7-1

Season series:
This is the second and final meeting between the teams this season. On Nov. 16, Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier scored twice and had an assist and Mike Smith stopped 30 of 31 shots as Tampa Bay won 4-1 at Arena.

Big Story:
The Coyotes will look to continue their winning ways. They've won five straight and have opened a four-point lead on the Kings for fourth place in the Western Conference.

The Lightning, however, are going the other way. With two wins in their last 10 games, they've fallen to 10th in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot.

Team Scope:

Coyotes --
Wins in the first two games of a four-game trip certainly make the road an easier place to be, but even before the trip started, coach Dave Tippet said he thought getting away from home at this point in the season was perfect timing.

It's the first time the Coyotes have been out of Arena since the end of the Olympics, and it's also the first time the five players added at the trade deadline are on the road with their new teammates.

"When you're in one place too long, a change of scenery is good for you; it tweaks you," Tippett told the Arizona Republic. "It'll just be a nice time to get out on the road and play some good road hockey."

Lightning --
Going into the season, it's likely Lecavalier was a lock for Canada's Olympic team, but those hopes went away after a less-than-stellar first half. Since the Olympic break ended, however, Lecavalier has been a strong presence on the ice. In seven games, he has 5 goals and 6 points. In his first 62 games, he had 15 goals and 55 points -- not horrible numbers, but underwhelming for a player of his caliber.

Lecavalier believes the rest he got during the Olympics is helping him now.

"It really did, honestly," he said of the time off. "Sometimes you're negative in your head. When you're slumping, when things aren't going well, it's tough. You second guess or there's just not confidence. To get away for a week … I didn't even think about hockey. When I came back, it really felt like another season. I got more hop to my skate, got more confidence. It just kind of kick-started me."

Who's Hot --
In his last four games, Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is 4-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average and two shutouts.

Lecavalier has goals in two straight and points in three in a row. With 20 goals now, it's the 10th straight season he's scored at least that many.

Injury Report --
Coyotes center Robert Lang is questionable with a lower-body injury.

The Lightning could be without two of their top forwards Tuesday. Ryan Malone has missed three of the last four games with an upper-body injury, and Steven Stamkos has a sore back after being hit hard Sunday against Pittsburgh. Also, defenseman Mattias Ohlund is doubtful for Tuesday with a leg injury.

Stat Pack --
Bryzgalov already has set the franchise single-season mark with 36 wins this season, and his eight shutouts tie him with Sean Burke -- his goaltending coach -- for most in one season with the Winnipeg/Phoenix franchise.

Puck Drop --
They're calling Adrian Aucoin the closer in Phoenix. After scoring the shootout-deciding goal Sunday to beat the Thrashers, he now is 4-for-4 in shootouts, with all four winning the game for Phoenix.

"He's the closer," coach Dave Tippet told the team's Web site. "He's done a very good job at it. Why change now? When it's time to get out of here … we just put him in and away we go."

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