Skip to Main Content

Surging Coyotes visit tumbling Thrashers

by Brian Hunter

COYOTES (41-22-5) at THRASHERS (28-29-10)

Last 10
-- Phoenix 6-4-0; Atlanta 3-5-2

Season series
-- This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. The Coyotes won the most recent matchup, 4-3 in a shootout on Feb. 19, 2009 in Phoenix.

Big story
-- You'd be hard-pressed to find two teams going in more opposite directions. The Coyotes are heading confidently toward their first playoff berth since 2002 and carry a four-game winning streak into Sunday's game, while the Thrashers have lost five straight and fallen six points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

-- Ilya Bryzgalov took over the League lead in shutouts when Phoenix won 4-0 in Carolina on Saturday. He also helped the Coyotes set a record for wins in a season since their move from Winnipeg in 1996. The previous mark of 40 had been established in the 2001-02 season. Next to fall will be the franchise record of 43 wins achieved by the Jets in 1983-84.

"Just a solid road game," coach Dave Tippett said. "(Bryzgalov) cleaned up the few chances that we gave up, but other than that we had a real good group effort."

-- Following the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, Atlanta put together a 4-1-2 run that indicated the team might be able to pull off its second-ever postseason berth even without its franchise player. The Thrashers are still far from mathematically eliminated, but their task keeps getting tougher with each ensuing defeat. They fell behind 3-0 in the first period to the Rangers on Friday. The eventual 5-2 loss was their third straight on home ice.

"These are extremely important games," goalie Johan Hedberg said. "For my own part, two mistakes early on and we're down three goals. I've got to be way better than that, and we've got to try and battle back."

Who's hot
-- Lee Stempniak has 5 goals and an assist in four games since Phoenix picked him up from Toronto, and an overall five-game points streak dating back to when he was with the Maple Leafs. He and Martin Hanzal each scored twice on Saturday. Bryzgalov has two shutouts in his last three starts and has allowed a total of four goals in winning his last four starts.

Injury report
-- Robert Lang missed the Coyotes' game Saturday with a lower-body injury. Scottie Upshall is out for the season following knee surgery. ... Defenseman Zach Bogosian is day-to-day for the Thrashers with a hand injury. Evander Kane is expected to miss at least three weeks with a broken foot. Christoph Schubert is out a similar period of time with a hip injury. Boris Valabik will miss the rest of the season following knee surgery.

Stat pack -- Wojtek Wolski has 2 goals and an assist in four games for Phoenix since being acquired from Colorado at the trade deadline. His 50 points are the most on the Coyotes. ... Chris Chelios took 16 shifts for 13:14 of ice time against Columbus and 17 shifts for 14:26 of ice time against New York in the two games since Atlanta called him up. The 48-year-old defenseman has one shot and a minus-1 rating.

Puck drop -- The Coyotes play 10 of their remaining 14 regular-season games on the road and sport an impressive 16-12-3 mark after disposing of the Hurricanes.

"Tonight we played very well," Bryzgalov said. "This is kind of Coyotes road-game hockey."

View More