Ducks Get Quick Second Chance at Coyotes
COYOTES (10-6-0) at DUCKS (5-7-2)
Last 10 -- Phoenix 6-4-0; Anaheim 3-6-1
Season series -- These teams meet for the second time in a week. Last Saturday, Radim Vrbata scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Coyotes a 3-2 win. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped all three Anaheim shooters.
Big Story -- Last Saturday's game was a little testy -- highlighted by a hit from Anaheim's James Wisniewski on Coyotes captain Shane Doan that resulted in a two-game suspension for the Ducks defenseman. Will the chippiness carry off as these teams meet for the second time in seven days? Wisniewski is back after serving his suspension and the Ducks are desperate for a home win to stop the bleeding in the Pacific Division. Anaheim trails Phoenix by 8 points and division leading San Jose by 12.
Coyotes -- Phoenix put a two-game losing streak to bed with an impressive 3-1 win against Chicago on Thursday. Well, impressive to outsiders, at least. It seems that Phoenix coach Dave Tippett still has some issues with his team.
"I'm still concerned about the penalties we're taking but I like the compete level right down to the final buzzer," he said. "It was entertaining for the fans, breakaways both ways and probably not the way we would have drawn up a game plan, but we'll take the points and move on."
Phoenix gave Chicago six power-play chances, but the Hawks struck out on each.
Ducks -- Anaheim has taken five points from its last four games and hopes that it is a sign of good things starting to build for the team, which has dug itself a pretty sizable early-season hole.
"We have to start building confidence from little things," right wing Teemu Selanne said after scoring twice in a 4-0 win against Nashville on Thursday night. "This team can play way better than we did. The good thing is we found a way to win the game, and that is all that really matters."
Who's Hot -- Ilya Bryzgalov has been one of the stories of the season and he continued his stellar play with a 31-save against Chicago on Thursday.
"The story of this season has been the play of Craig Anderson and Ilya Bryzgalov in goal in Colorado and Phoenix," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Not many people gave either of those teams a chance before this season, but look at them now. Goaltending has clearly been the key in both places."
Anaheim's goaltending hasn't been nearly as good, but Jonas Hiller did turn in a 40-save shutout on Thursday to give the Ducks a good feeling heading into Saturday night's contest.
Injury Report -- The Coyotes have a growing concern as their injury list continues to grow, especially on defense. Ed Jovanovski, who has been among the best players in the League in the first month, limped off during the second period of the game against Chicago. His status for Saturday's game is unknown, but Phoenix will be without defensemen Kurt Sauer and Zbynek Michalek for the contest.
The Ducks are relatively healthy, missing just goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who is on IR, but could return as soon as early next week.
Stat Pack -- The Ducks' penalty kill has not been good this season. It is ranked No. 28 in the League at 74.6 percent. But there is cause for optimism at The Pond. Anaheim went 5-for-5 on the kill in Thursday's win against Nashville. More impressively, the high-flying Penguins went 0-for-6 against the Ducks in the previous game. In fact, the Ducks have killed a dozen straight opposition power-play chances going back to the second period of Saturday's 3-2 loss at Phoenix.
Puck Drop -- After losing to Phoenix last week, the Ducks probably are well aware that Phoenix is a far better team than it was last year. But in case Anaheim needs a reminder, perhaps coach Randy Carlyle will run out this quote by Quenneville in the wake of his team's loss to the Coyotes this week: "They're a better team, they're deeper, they're balanced, they have a very mobile defense, and they've got good goaltending. They're playing tight and patient and it's paid off."