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Phoenix Coyotes vs. Calgary Flames

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GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (1-4-1) at Calgary Flames (2-3-1).

TIME: Monday, 9 p.m. EDT.

Wayne Gretzky's job as a rookie coach was already difficult enough. Losing future Hall of Famer Brett Hull to retirement won't help.

Gretzky and the Phoenix Coyotes look to end a three-game losing streak and pick up their first road victory of the season when they visit the Calgary Flames.

Hull, the third-leading goal scorer in NHL history, announced his retirement two hours before Saturday's home game against Detroit. Without Hull, the Coyotes were shut out for the first time this season, 2-0.

Five of the Coyotes' first six games have been decided by one goal, and Gretzky saw Saturday why a veteran club like the Red Wings tends to come out on top in close games.

"As I said to the players after the game, the difference right now is a team like Detroit, you can feel their belief," Gretzky said. "They believe in what they're doing and they believe they're going to win.

"You have that feeling when you walk by their locker room. And our team is a little bit fragile right now."

Hull's presence on the ice and in the locker room was a big reason why Gretzky took the Coyotes job, with the new coach expecting Hull to provide leadership for the team's younger players.

"His records speak for themselves. He's a consummate professional," said Gretzky of Hull.

The Coyotes will need to lift their play quickly as they open a four-game road trip Monday.

The Flames snapped their three-game losing streak with a 3-0 home victory over Edmonton on Saturday. Jarome Iginla scored in the first period and Miikka Kiprusoff made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season.

"All night he just looked so solid in there making tough saves look so easy," Iginla said of Kiprusoff. "There were a few right on the crease where from the bench they looked like they were going in, but then he sticks out his leg and makes the save and those are huge boosts."

With Kiprusoff turning in his best performance of the early season, the Flames need the improve their power play and penalty killing. Calgary is 3-for-38 on the power play and has allowed 13 goals in just 39 short-handed situations.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 15): Coyotes - 3 points, 5th place, 5 PB, Pacific Division. Flames - points, 3rd place (tied), 2 PB, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Ladislav Nagy, Paul Mara and Oleg Saprykin, 2 goals and 4 points; seven with 2 assists; Tyson Nash, 25 PIM. Flames - Daymond Langkow, 3 goals; Roman Hamrlik, 4 assists; Tony Amonte and Hamrlik, 5 points; Darren McCarty, 15 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 15): Coyotes - Power play: 20.0 percent (7 for 35), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 76.7 percent (23 for 30), 25th (tied). Flames - Power play: 7.9 percent (3 for 38), 30th. Penalty killing: 66.7 percent (26 for 39), 30th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Kiprusoff (2-3-0, 1 SO, 3.68 GAA); Philippe Sauve (0-0-0, 3.00). Flames - Curtis Joseph (1-2-0, 2.01); David Leneveu (0-2-0, 3.31).

SEASON SERIES: Flames, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 31, 2004; Flames, 1-0. At Calgary, Alberta, Iginla scored and Kiprusoff had 27 saves.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 0-3-0 on the road; Flames - 1-0-1 at home.


Associated Press
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