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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 20th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (16-13-3) at Florida Panthers (18-9-6), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Don't say the first-place Panthers haven't been giving the home fans at BankAtlantic Center their money's worth.

Florida wraps up a four-game residency tonight looking to extend its home points streak to nine in a row after they battle the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Panthers are 6-0-2 over their current run at home, the longest point streak on home ice since a 10-game stretch during the 2005-06 season. On top of that, each of their last 12 games at BankAtlantic Center have been decided by just one goal, with the Panthers going 6-1-5 over that stretch.

That trend continued on Sunday, with Florida logging a 3-2 overtime win against Carolina. Jason Garrison tied the game with a power-play goal at the 5:47 mark of the third period and Kris Versteeg won it with 1:52 left in overtime.

The Panthers are 5-1-2 in their last eight overall and own an eight-point lead over the Jets for first place in the Southeast Division.

Sean Bergenheim also scored for Florida before leaving the game with a lower- body injury in the second period and Jose Theodore ended with 24 saves.

"Nothing comes easy for this team," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said. "There was no easy way to play that game. We're not looking for an easy game but we'd take one right now and no one is giving it to us."

Garrison leads all NHL defenseman with 10 goals, while Versteeg's team-leading 16 goals have him tied for ninth in the league.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, will look to recover after a disappointing loss to the Rangers on Saturday. The game appeared headed to overtime, but New York's Brad Richards scored with just one-tenth of a second showing on the clock to deal Phoenix a tough loss.

It was the first time in 15 games this year that Phoenix lost when leading after two periods.

"That was a frustrating one to lose," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "It was so close, but it never should have happened."

Cal O'Reilly and Lauri Korpikoski each had a goal for the Coyotes, who have dropped four of five. Mike Smith allowed three goals on 30 shots.

Tonight, Phoenix will face former teammate Ed Jovanovski for the first time since he signed with the Panthers this offseason. Jovanovski played with the Coyotes in each of the previous five seasons, notching 164 points.

That reunion comes on the same night that Phoenix is expected to debut its newest defenseman in David Rundblad, who was acquired along with a draft pick on Saturday from Ottawa in exchange for center Kyle Turris.

Phoenix swapped the disappointing Turris, who was an early-season holdout, for the 21-year-old Rundblad, the 17th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 draft by the Blues. He made his NHl debut on Oct. 7 and logged a goal and three assists in 24 games with the Sens.

Phoenix is 4-1-2 in its last seven meetings with Florida and has won three of its last four trips to Sunrise. The past two meetings between these clubs have gone to a shootout, with each team winning once on road ice.

12/20 10:46:37 ET


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