NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, March 14th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (41-22-5) at Atlanta Thrashers (28-29-10), 5 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Thrashers couldn't have picked a worse time to post
their second-longest losing streak of the season. A visit from the Coyotes on
Sunday could extend the winless drought by another game.
Atlanta will try to snap a five-game overall skid and pick up just its second
win over visiting Phoenix in franchise history when the clubs meet this
evening at Philips Arena.
The Thrashers won their first two games following the Olympic break and were
tied for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference before
their current five-game slide that has dropped them six points back of the
Atlanta may find it tough to get on track tonight seeing as it has just one
win and a tie in 12 all-time meetings with Phoenix. The Thrashers have also
lost four of five at home to the Coyotes since joining the league, with their
lone win over Phoenix coming at home on Nov. 23, 2003.
The Coyotes have gone 3-0 with a tie in four meetings since that game.
Atlanta has scored just six goals over its current losing streak, two of those
coming from Clarke MacArthur and Ron Hainsey in Friday's 5-2 home loss to the
New York Rangers. Johan Hedberg stopped 30-of-34 shots in the loss and allowed
three first-period goals.
"These are extremely important games," said Hedberg. "From my own part, two
mistakes early on and we're down three goals. I've got to be way better than
that. Right now we're not getting anything for free and we have to work for
everything we get. It's very frustrating right now."
The Thrashers lost the opener of a five-game homestand and are on their
longest losing streak since a nine-game slide from Dec. 19-Jan. 5.
Already without Evander Kane (left foot) and Christoph Schubert (hip), Zach
Bogosian is day-to-day because of a hand injury.
Hedberg, who has started six of Atlanta's seven games since the break, is
3-5-1 with a 3.54 goals-against average in his career versus the Coyotes,
while Ondrej Pavelec has never faced them.
The Coyotes picked up their 41st victory on Saturday with a 4-0 blanking of
the Hurricanes, the club's highest single-season win total since moving to
Phoenix in 1996. The franchise record for wins in a season is 43, set by the
1984-85 Winnipeg-based club.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 29 saves to post his NHL-leading and club-record tying
eighth shutout of the season. Bryzgalov, who set a single-season career high
in shutouts and notched his 16th career blanking, matched Nikolai Khabibulin's
club mark set in 1998-99.
Lee Stempniak and Martin Hanzal each scored a pair of goals for the Coyotes,
who began a four-game road trip by winning their fourth game in a row. They
also moved two points ahead of Los Angeles for the fourth spot in the Western
"I thought we played a solid road game," said Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett.
"Bryzgalov made some really timely saves, and I thought we capitalized on some
opportunities. We were able to push the lead along every period."
After netting just 14 goals in 62 games with Toronto, Stempniak now has five
goals in four games with Phoenix since coming over in a trade.
03/14 10:31:26 ET