Ducks vs. Coyotes
COYOTES (21-12-2) at DUCKS (13-14-7)
Last 10 --
Phoenix 8-1-1; Anaheim 3-3-4
Season series --
They've played half their allotment of head-to-head games already, and the Coyotes have a 2-1 edge in wins. Each of the games has been decided differently, in a shootout, in regulation and in overtime.
Big story --
Lots of teams get off to good starts then fade later, but the Coyotes haven't. In fact, they haven't had a losing streak longer than two games all season, and they're breathing down the necks of the Pacific-leading Sharks and Kings, entering Friday's action three points behind both. Meanwhile, in Anaheim, it's been a slow road back to contention, their 33 points tied with St. Louis for last place in the Western Conference.
No one has more reason to be happy with the Coyotes' recent success than Shane Doan. Playing in his 1,000th game on Thursday, he scored the tying goal in the shootout to set up Robert Lang for the winner, 2-1 over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
"It's a huge blessing," Doan said. "It's hard to say what it really means. It will probably mean a lot more later on."
Doan is only the 24th player to log 1,000 games with the team that drafted him, the second in Coyotes/Jets history, and figured prominently in the most recent win in Anaheim on Nov. 30 with his overtime goal. He also scored in their Nov. 7 meeting in the Honda Center, but the 'Yotes fell short in that one, 4-3. Most important, though, are his 25 goals against Anaheim in his career, out of 265 lifetime. Only Dallas (26) has been victimized by more scores off the stick of Doan.
Doan will be honored by the Coyotes for his 1,000th game on Dec. 26.
They're getting points at least, 3-0-3 in a six-game span ended by a 4-1 loss to the Sharks Thursday night. That game came on the heels of a big win in Vancouver which may have left the Ducks a little spent, but physically they came out strong enough.
"When you play back to back games, sometimes energy can be a question," coach Randy Carlyle said. "I don't think it was the energy issue. I didn't think we were emotionally involved in the game until later."
's power-play goal made it as close as 2-1 but Jean-Sebastien Giguere allowed two late goals to put it out of reach for the Ducks.
Who's hot -- Saku Koivu
didn't get on the board in the Sharks game, but had three goals and four assists in the four games prior with multi-point efforts in three of them, including a game-winning third-period goal against the Canucks and an overtime winner versus Dallas. The net result was a 3-0-1 stretch for the Ducks.
"The last two to three weeks has been the best he's played for our hockey club," Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "And you can see in the determination he displays and the competitiveness in the faceoff circle and for one-on-one puck battles."
Injury report -- Joffrey Lupul
's surgery on his herniated disc was successful, now six to eight weeks of healing will follow for the Anaheim forward. A mending hand won't keep teammate Teemu Selanne
off skates and he has been on the ice during practice preparing for a January return.
Phoenix defenseman Kurt Sauer (upper body) remains on IR.
Stat pack -- Jonas Hiller
will probably get the start in net for the Ducks, with good reason. He's 7-0-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average in 10 starts against the Coyotes. … Last season, with Wayne Gretzky behind the bench, it took till the 45th game of the season for Phoenix to win its 22nd game. They have 21 in their first 35. Naturally, solid goaltending figures into that total and Ilya Bryzgalov is 19-9-2 with a 2.02 GAA and four shutouts. … The Ducks' 33 points put them eight behind the eighth-seeded Red Wings, but would only be two behind the Eastern Conference No. 8 seed, the Florida Panthers.
Puck drop --
While the Ducks seem to be going in the right direction, can they get it going fast enough to get back into the Western Conference playoff race? Meanwhile, as strong as the Coyotes have been so far, the Western Conference is so competitive they can't take their good fortune for granted. They're only three points ahead of that watershed No. 8 spot.