NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, February 9th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (27-19-9) at Dallas Stars (30-18-5), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - In danger of posting their longest losing streak in almost two years, the last thing the Stars need to see is a red-hot goaltender.
That will be the case this evening though as the Phoenix Coyotes and Ilya Bryzgalov seek a third straight shutout and a share of first place in the Pacific Division in this matchup with Dallas at American Airlines Center.
The first-place Stars have matched their longest losing streak of the year with three straight setbacks and are just 1-5 over their last six games. That has helped the Coyotes pull within two points of first place in the division, while the Sharks are also just one point back.
Phoenix had lost six of eight prior to its consecutive shutouts and Bryzgalov has made 51 saves in that span. He turned aside 25 shots in Saturday's 1-0 victory over Minnesota and then stopped another 26 in Monday's 3-0 triumph over Colorado for his fifth shutout of the season and 21st of his career.
"Every game in front of us right now is very important," said Bryzgalov. "We just continue to play hard, play smart and give ourselves the best chance to win the games."
Radim Vrbata scored twice and Scottie Upshall added a goal in Monday's win as the Coyotes wrapped a three-game homestand. They hit the road having won five of their last six as the guest.
Defenseman Ed Jovanovski practiced on Monday, but still missed his third straight game due to an upper-body injury. He is questionable for tonight.
Bryzgalov has had mixed results in two starts versus the Stars this year. He gave up three goals on 18 shots and did not make it out of the second period in a 6-3 setback in Dallas on Nov. 5, but then made 33 saves in a Dec. 11 home win. That improved Bryzgalov to 8-2-1 with a 2.42 goals-against average and two shutouts in his last 12 versus the Stars.
Backup Jason LaBarbera got the call when these clubs last met on Dec. 26 in Dallas and he notched a 30-save shutout in a 1-0 decision. The victory was Phoenix's ninth in the last 12 meetings and the club has also won four of six and seven of its last 10 in Big D.
The Stars will hope to get on track in this series and hold onto sole possession of first place in the division. They will also look to avoid dropping four games in a row for the first time since losing seven straight from March 17-30, 2009.
Dallas has been idle since Saturday, when it dropped a 3-1 decision in Philadelphia. Brenden Morrow had the lone goal, his 10th in 15 games, while Kari Lehtonen allowed three goals on 32 shots. One of those was a short-handed tally that put the Stars in a 2-0 hole.
"That was a big goal for them, no doubt," Morrow said of the short-handed tally. "We came back and made it 2-1 after that. There are momentum changes all throughout games. That was a big goal for them, but I thought we answered it pretty well."
The Stars were without several players a result of a fight-filled contest with Boston on Thursday. Both Adam Burish and Krys Barch suffered facial injuries during their fights, while Raymond Sawada sustained a broken nose and shoulder injury on a high hit from the Bruins' Daniel Paille that resulted in a four- game suspension for the offender.
Burish landed on injured reserve due to a fractured orbital bone, while Sawada and Barch are questionable for tonight. Tom Wandell, though, could play for the first time since Jan. 24 because of a shoulder injury.
Dallas begins a three-game homestand tonight and has won four of its last five as the host.
02/09 10:47:00 ET