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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 16th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (3-0-0-0) at Tampa Bay Lightning (1-0-0-0), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Off to their first 3-0 start as a franchise in 16 years, the Phoenix Coyotes put their mark on the line tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

The Winnipeg Jets opened 3-0 in 1987-88, but no Jets or Coyotes club has ever taken the first four contests of a campaign.

On Wednesday night, Shane Doan and Radoslav Suchy each scored to lead Phoenix to a 2-1 win over the host Florida Panthers in the second portion of a three- game road trip.

Sean Burke stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced and fell just short of recording his second consecutive shutout. The veteran netminder stopped 31 in a 2-0 win at Anaheim on Sunday. Burke, however, will rest this evening and yield the crease to backup Brian Boucher, who will make his first start of the season.

This fast start for Phoenix is the polar opposite of what occurred last fall, as Bob Francis' club began 0-2 in 2002. The Coyotes will head back home after tonight, hosting Philadelphia on Saturday.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has played only once this season, last Friday against Boston. Newcomer Cory Stillman scored two goals and assisted on another, while Nikolai Khabibulin made 29 saves to lead the Lightning to a 5-1 over visiting Boston.

Dimitry Afanasenkov, Brad Richards and Tim Taylor also tallied for the Lightning, who won the Southeast Division last year and made the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

Stillman's goal was encouraging because he is being counted on to fill the void left by Vaclav Prospal, who fled for Anaheim via free agency after leading the Bolts in scoring.

Tampa will next head to the road and visit New Jersey on Saturday.

The Lightning went 2-0 against the Coyotes last season and have won three straight games in this series. Phoenix has lost in three of its last four trips to Tampa.

10/16 10:11:21 ET

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