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Playoff rivals face off as Red Wings host Coyotes

by Brian Hedger /
COYOTES (15-9-3) at RED WINGS (16-9-1)


Last 10:
Phoenix 6-4-0; Detroit 7-3-0

Season series: This is the first of four games between the two teams, who have met in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs each of the past two postseasons -- with the Red Wings winning both, including a four-game sweep last spring.

Big story: Detroit has currently lost two in a row following its most recent winning streak of seven games that ended last Sunday in Colorado. The Coyotes haven't had a lengthy streak of any kind and come into Detroit looking to match their season high of three straight victories. The availability of Red Wings forward Valtteri Filppula (leg laceration) will be a side story, as will last season's playoff sweep by the Wings.

Team Scope:

Phoenix is in the midst of a grueling portion of the schedule. This game will be the third in four days for the 'Yotes, who started the week with back-to-back wins on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday and Nashville Predators on Tuesday. After playing the Wings, Phoenix will play 12 of its next 19 games away from Arena. The good news is the 'Yotes have found success in other buildings. They have a mark of 9-4-1 in 14 road games. Keith Yandle is also heating up. He's scored in each of the last two games and played his 200th consecutive game on Tuesday in Nashville.

"It's a thing where you want to play every night, and you want to be out there battling with your team," Yandle said. "You want to be out there winning games. It feels good."

Red Wings: Detroit took eight penalties in a 3-2 loss on Tuesday at Scottrade Center and that's out of character for the Wings. Jimmy Howard took the loss against St. Louis, but the third-year starting goalie remains a rock of consistency for Detroit -- which played the Blues without Filppula (8 goals, 21 points), who has a deep cut on his right shin from taking a skate blade just above the boot of his skate in a Dec. 4 loss at Colorado.

"I'm hoping that it will get better soon," Filppula told "I can't say when it will be good enough, but I will give it a try every day. It was pretty painful. I could cruise around a little bit (at Tuesday's skate), but when I skated a little faster I couldn't really do it."

Who's hot:
Ray Whitney has 3 goals and 3 assists in his past five games for the Coyotes, while Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker has scored points in five of his last six games -- including 3 goals. … Howard is 15-6-1 with a miniscule 1.83 goals-against average and .931 save percentage for the Red Wings. He also had a personal seven-game win streak halted in St. Louis, where he showed his fiery side by going after Blue forward David Perron -- who was pushed into Howard.

"I'm not taking that," Howard said. "I don't care who it is. If you're going to run me like that or try to go through me like that, you're going to pay the price."

Injury report:
Filppula (leg laceration) is day-to-day, while Jan Mursak (fractured ankle) and Patrick Eaves (fractured jaw) are also out. … Rostislav Klesla is day-to-day for the Coyotes with a lower-body injury and fellow defenseman Michael Rozsival (upper-body injury) is still on IR.

Stat pack:
The Coyotes are an impressive 13-0-0 when leading after two periods and 13-1-3 when scoring the first goal. Conversely, they're 2-8-0 when the opponent scores first and 0-8-1 when trailing after two periods. The Red Wings are 10-2-1 at home and have won seven straight at Joe Louis Arena.

Puck drop:
Second year defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson keeps improving for the Coyotes. The Swedish blueliner leads all Coyotes defensemen in goals (5) and he's third on the team in ice time, including a career high 26:26 logged in Monday's 4-3 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Coyotes selected Ekman-Larsson sixth in the 2009 NHL Draft.

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