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Two big points on line for Coyotes, Blues

by Brian Compton /
COYOTES (19-13-9) at BLUES (20-14-6)

TV: Fox Sports-Arizona; Fox Sports-Midwest.

Last 10: Phoenix 4-4-2; St. Louis 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. They've split the first two games -- Phoenix earned a 5-3 win at Arena before the Blues got even on New Year's Eve with a 4-3 victory at the Scottrade Center.

Big Story: Two big points in the Western Conference playoff race are on the line between a pair of teams currently on the outside looking in. Just one point separates the Coyotes and Blues in the standings, but fifth and 12th place in the West are separated by just two points.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Overtime was unkind to Phoenix once again on Saturday night, when the Coyotes suffered a 2-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Arena. Phoenix was an NHL-best 19-1-6 in overtime last season en route to their franchise record 107-point campaign. But this season has been a complete reversal – the Coyotes are 2-9 after regulation and 0-6 in games decided in the five-minute overtime period.

"It's a huge difference," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Last year, we were finding ways to win. I remember a game when (Ed) Jovanovski was in the crease and the puck hit him in the shaft of the stick and the puck went in and games were just falling our way. This year, the odds seem to be against us. And those are valuable points we're missing out on.

"We've had major hiccups in some games and penalties in some, but others have just been timely goals by the other side."

Blues: St. Louis suffered its third straight loss on Saturday night, a 2-1 decision against the New York Rangers at the Scottrade Center. Brad Winchester had the lone goal for the Blues, who hadn't lost in regulation to the Rangers since Nov. 22, 2000 -- a span of 12 games.

"We weren't patient, we weren't poised, they kept putting pressure on us and we weren't able to get anything setup out there," said forward Alex Steen.

Who's Hot: Coyotes forward Scottie Upshall has points in five of his last six games. He has eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) during that span. … Winchester's goal on Saturday was his fourth in 11 contests. He had three goals in 64 appearances last season.

Injury Report: Ilya Bryzgalov missed Saturday's game due to the flu, but he's expected to be ready to play Monday night. Phoenix has played eight of its last 12 games without its No. 1 goalie. … St. Louis will be without Andy McDonald (concussion), T.J. Oshie (broken ankle), David Perron (post-concussion syndrome) and Dave Scatchard (knee).
Stat Pack: Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal played more than 22 minutes against the Sabres and won 10 of 15 faceoffs. … Blues forward David Backes had five hits against the Rangers on Saturday and increased his team lead to 113.

Puck Drop: "I didn't know (Ilya Bryzgalov was out of the lineup) until right before our meeting at 4:30, and that's about 40 minutes before warm-ups. It's funny, you come to the rink and you have to do a complete 180. I thought I could hang out and relax a little bit, but that wasn't the case." -- Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera
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