Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/30/12
The Phoenix Coyotes are locked in a four-team race for the Pacific Division title. To pick up two more valuable points, they'll have to avoid a fourth consecutive lopsided loss to their next opponent. The Anaheim Ducks have earned three straight decisive victories over Phoenix, which will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time in more than a month Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. In a tight battle with Dallas, Los Angeles and San Jose for the division crown and the third seed in the Western Conference, the Coyotes (38-27-13) earned a critical victory Thursday by beating the Sharks 2-0. Phoenix avoided a third straight defeat and earned at least a point for the ninth time in 11 games as it continued its push for a third consecutive postseason appearance. "It's got to be a momentum game for us that makes us hungrier for that next game," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team last won two straight during a season-best six-game run Feb. 16-28. "We're going to have to play well the last four games to get ourselves in." More solid performances in net from Mike Smith could make that happen. The veteran recorded his sixth shutout and 34th victory with 38 saves Thursday. "Smitty finds a way to win - that's what he's done for us all year," Tippett said. That was true in the first two meetings with Anaheim in 2011-12, as Smith turned aside 48 of 54 shots. However, he was also in goal for the last three matchups as the Ducks outscored the Coyotes 14-4. Andrew Cogliano recorded a hat trick in the most recent one, a 4-1 Anaheim road win Jan. 31. Another victory would give the Ducks (33-33-11) their first season series win over Phoenix since 2008-09, although they may not be nearly as motivated this time around. Anaheim, loser of five of six on the road, was eliminated from postseason contention Wednesday. It can still have an impact on the West playoff picture, as the club also has contests against Vancouver and Calgary remaining. "These games we are just trying to finish strong and see what happens," veteran forward Teemu Selanne said. "... It's a tough situation. But we are playing well." Anaheim has won three of four and gone 23-11-5 in its last 39. Jonas Hiller has posted a 1.97 goals-against average while starting 37 of those, and he should be in net on Saturday after stopping 28 shots against San Jose in his team-record 70th start. Hiller, one win shy of reaching 30 for the second time, was in net for the last three games against Phoenix and posted a 1.33 GAA. Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata could prove to be an obstacle to Hiller reaching that milestone. After missing two games due to an allergic reaction to penicillin, Vrbata netted his 31st and 32nd goals Thursday. His 33rd would give him the franchise's highest total since Nelson Emerson had that many for the Winnipeg Jets in 1993-94. Ray Whitney, who assisted on both of Vrbata's goals against San Jose, needs one point to reach 1,000. He has three goals and nine assists during a 10-game point streak in this series. The Ducks' last four-game winning streak against Phoenix was Jan. 4-March 22, 2009.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Andrew Luck: Feels `as good as I've ever felt` for training camp

Amar'e Stoudemire announces retirement after signing one-day contract with Knicks

Report: Gregory failed multiple drug tests since suspension

Olympian Abby Johnston: Worst thing about Olympic village is no Pokemon

Reggie Bush reportedly closing in on contract with Bills

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Eric Berry planning to no-show training camp

Eagles could have interest in Gordon if Browns trade him

Report: Fitzpatrick, Jets not likely to have deal before camp

Report: Anquan Boldin signs one-year deal with Detroit Lions

Formula One CEO's mother-in-law kidnapped in Brazil

Mike McCarthy ends weight talk, declares Eddie Lacy ‘ready’

Rudy Gay admits to having ‘no idea’ about what the Kings are doing

Report: Kansas City Chiefs' Justin Houston likely to miss regular-season games

Padres reportedly making progress on Cashner trade

NFL Network to stream on PlayStation Vue

Report: Eagles’ Nigel Bradham charged for assaulting cabana boy

Rudy Gay underwent minor Achilles procedure this summer

Bashaud Breeland brought puppies to Washington camp

Tyler Johnson 'threw up a couple of times' over $50M deal

Should the Yankees hold a fire sale?

Five young soccer players to keep an eye on at Rio Olympics

Conor McGregor's coach predicts result of Nate Diaz rematch

Jordy Nelson starts camp on PUP list, no reason for panic?

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker