Avalanche-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 15, 2012
The Colorado Avalanche pride themselves on their ability to win close games. The Phoenix Coyotes have had very little luck winning those kinds of contests. The Avalanche look to build on an encouraging victory and send the struggling Coyotes to a fourth straight defeat Monday afternoon. Colorado (24-20-2) arrives in Arizona after defeating Dallas 2-1 on Saturday to snap a three-game losing streak. David Jones notched his ninth goal of the season in the first period and Paul Stastny scored the tiebreaking goal on a power play at 10:35 of the third. Stastny's tally tied him with Ryan O'Reilly and Matt Duchene for the team lead with 12 goals and ended a personal 10-game goal-scoring drought. The Avs, 10-3-1 since Dec. 17, are one of two NHL teams - along with Nashville - that don't have a player with more than 12 goals. "We don't have the type of team that's going to win 5-0, so we need to earn whatever we get,'' said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 21 shots. "We need to play well defensively. We know that we have the capability to score two to three goals per game, so if you don't let them score much, then we should have a chance.'' Colorado is 16-5-2 in one-goal games, the league's fourth-best record in such contests. That bodes well against a Coyotes team that has lost three straight - all by one goal - and is 7-8-7 in games decided by one score. Phoenix is 2-5-4 since Dec. 23, which includes a 3-2 loss in Colorado on Dec. 29. The Coyotes (20-18-7) play nine of their next 11 at home after they wrapped up a winless three-game road trip Friday a 4-3 loss to Columbus. Phoenix, which lost the first two games of the trip in shootouts, is 2-4-1 in its last seven games at Jobing.com Arena. "This is going to be a big part of our season and we have to find ways to take care of home ice and find ways to win," captain Shane Doan said. Radim Vrbata has been playing well despite the Coyotes' recent struggles. He scored his team-leading 22nd goal Friday - his third straight game with a goal - and has scored six times in his last seven contests. He had two goals in the Coyotes' first matchup of the season with the Avs, a 4-1 victory Nov. 2 in Colorado. Mike Smith stopped 39 shots in that game for Phoenix. He wasn't in net for last month's rematch and had the night off Friday after starting the previous five games, but is expected to get the call Monday. Smith, 1-1-3 despite a 1.55 goals-against average in his last five starts overall, is 4-1-1 with a 1.56 GAA in six games - three starts - lifetime against the Avs. Giguere is expected to make his third straight start Monday as Colorado concludes its three-game road trip. He wasn't in net for either of this season's first two meetings with the Coyotes and hasn't faced them since 2009, but is 0-1-5 with a 2.70 GAA in his last seven appearances against Phoenix.
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