BLUES (2-2-0) at COYOYES (3-2-0)
Season Series -- This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. St. Louis swept all four games in 2008-09, allowing only six goals. That came after the Coyotes swept the season series in 2007-08.
Big Story -- With three wins in their first five games, the Coyotes rank as one of the NHL's early-season surprises. They packed Jobing.com Arena for their home opener last Saturday and dominated play against Columbus but lost 2-0. They went scoreless again Monday night at San Jose, but still won 1-0 thanks to Lauri Korpikoski's shootout goal. They'll be hosting a Blues team that's playing its first road game in North America and is coming off consecutive home losses to Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Team Scope: -- After two come-from-behind wins, the paid the price for slow starts against the Thrashers and Kings. They've trailed by two goals in all four games, and after rallying to beat Detroit twice in Stockholm, they lost 4-2 to the Thrashers and 2-1 to the Kings.
Coach Andy Murray changed up his lines at practice this week, though it's not known whether he'll do the same for the game. He said that his team "needs that sense of desperation that we had where we couldn't lose a game in the second half last year. We've got to have the mentality that we can't lose a game right now."
Coyotes -- There hasn't been much scoring in the Coyotes' last four games. Phoenix and its four opponents have combined to score eight non-shootout goals, and the Coyotes haven't turned on the red light in either of their last two games. They lost 2-0 to Phoenix in their home opener last Saturday, then won 1-0 in a shootout at San Jose two nights later after neither team scored through 65 minutes.
The Coyotes got the shootout winner from Korpikoski, who had played just 6:20 and had never taken a shootout attempt.
Who's Hot -- Bryzgalov has been brilliant for the Coyotes this season, allowing just four goals in his four starts and posting two shutouts to go along with a 3-1-0 record and an 0.98 goals-against average. He's allowed just one goal in his last three starts.
Injury Report -- Phoenix center Matt Lombardi missed Monday's game with a lower-body injury, and they're still without forward Taylor Pyatt (lower body). Defenseman Kurt Sauer (headaches) has missed the last three games. The Blues are in good health.
Stat Pack -- The Blues have been outscored 7-3 in the first period of their four games. … Bryzgalov's two shutouts are the most in the League, and his 0.98 GAA is the best among all starting goaltenders.
Puck Drop -- St. Louis rode a huge late-season surge to a surprising playoff berth last spring, then shocked Detroit twice in Sweden. But if they were thinking a second trip to the playoffs would be easy, the last two games had to be a dose of reality.
"We're .500 after four games," Murray said. "It's going to be a dogfight all year. Anybody that thinks it's going to be any different, they're wrong. I knew what it would be like. I'm not surprised."
-- John Kreiser, NHL.