Avalanche-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 25, 2013
The Phoenix Coyotes are officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they still want to finish the season on a positive note. Hosting the Western Conference-worst Colorado Avalanche could help the Coyotes do that. Phoenix will try to win its fifth straight in this series and extend its home point streak over the Avs to 12 on Friday night in its final game at Jobing.com Arena this season. With Minnesota defeating Los Angeles 2-1 on Tuesday, the Coyotes (20-18-8) were officially knocked out of playoff contention for the first time in four seasons. It was a disappointing result for a club that advanced to its first conference finals a year ago, but that didn't stop the Coyotes from giving their best on Wednesday when they defeated playoff-bound San Jose 2-1. Captain Shane Doan picked up his first points in eight games by setting up first-period goals by Michael Stone and Keith Yandle. "I know everybody's disappointed and that room is as disappointed as everybody else, but I know the leadership that Shane Doan has and he's not going to let this team back off," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team closes at Anaheim on Saturday. "I wasn't worried about our commitment to playing hard tonight or whether we were going to go through the motions.'' Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith plans on giving it his all the final two games. "... we don't like to be in the situation we're in, but there's two ways to look at it: go out there and feel sorry for yourself and just get through a game or you could show some pride and play like we did tonight," he said. "It was a nice way to get a win.'' Having Smith in net could help the Coyotes extend their 9-0-2 run at home against the Avs (15-24-7). After making a season-high 41 saves in a 3-2 overtime victory in Denver on Feb. 11, Smith returned from a six-game injury absence on April 6 to make 24 saves in a 4-0 home win. He is 8-1-1 with a 1.41 goals-against average against the Avs, and the Coyotes have won four straight at home in this series. That doesn't bode well for an Avalanche team that's a league-worst 3-16-4 on the road. Colorado, loser of 16 of 17 outside Denver following Tuesday's 3-1 defeat at St. Louis, will miss the playoffs for a third straight season, but it will likely avoid finishing with the league's worst record. Florida would have to win its final two games and the Avs lose their last two in regulation in order for Colorado to have the best odds of securing the first overall pick in Monday's draft lottery. Avs left wing Cody McLeod probably wishes this season wasn't coming to an end. Five of his eight goals have come in the last five games, and he has a chance to find the back of the net in a career-best three straight. "I got bumped up to (Ryan) O'Reilly's line,'' McLeod said, explaining his recent surge. "I guess you're going to get more chances playing with them, and I've just been going to the net and kind of getting rewarded.'' Doan, who has team bests with three goals and five points in the season series, has 12 points in his last 10 home games versus Colorado.
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