Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 1/18/12
The Anaheim Ducks are still near the bottom of the Western Conference, but some improved defense has them heading in the right direction. The Phoenix Coyotes are hoping a rare offensive outburst can help them get back on track. Anaheim looks to extend its point streak to seven Wednesday night when it faces a Coyotes team trying to snap its longest road losing streak since 2009. With 37 points, the Ducks (15-22-7) are facing a steep uphill climb if they're going to make back-to-back playoff appearances. Anaheim, though, is taking some positive steps, going 5-0-1 since a 6-21-6 stretch. The Ducks have surrendered just 11 goals during their point streak after capping a 2-0-1 trip Sunday with a 4-2 victory over Vancouver. Jonas Hiller turned aside 72 of 75 shots on the trip. "We go out there now and we know we can beat (anyone)," Hiller, who is 7-2-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average at home against Phoenix, told the Ducks' official Twitter account. "You can feel it out there. Something has changed." The Ducks' last seven-game point streak was a 6-0-1 run Nov. 3-14, 2010. They'll go for their first four-game winning streak in Anaheim since Jan. 7-16, 2011, as they begin a three-game homestand. Anaheim won 4-1 on Dec. 14 to snap a three-game home skid to Phoenix. The Coyotes (21-18-7), who posted a 5-4 victory in Anaheim on Oct. 23, are looking to build momentum as they approach a stretch of six straight at home, which includes a Jan. 31 matchup against the Ducks. "We're going to be here a while after a real treacherous part of our schedule and we've got to make hay," coach Dave Tippett said after Phoenix ended a three-game skid Monday with a 6-1 victory over Colorado. Before the Coyotes can concern themselves with protecting home ice, they'll try to end an 0-2-3 slide on the road and win for just the second time in nine games away from home. Phoenix's last six-game road skid was an 0-5-1 stretch March 6-28, 2009. The Coyotes could avoid tying that mark if captain Shane Doan can continue to find the back of the net. Nine days after recording his first career hat trick in a 5-1 victory over the New York Islanders, Doan had two goals Monday in Phoenix's highest-scoring contest since a 6-2 home win over Anaheim on Jan. 15, 2011. "That was a game as a group that you enjoy, just because we don't usually have those games," Doan said. "We don't usually make it easy on ourselves." Goaltender Mike Smith is well aware of the Coyotes' offensive struggles. He has yielded six goals in his last five starts but has won just twice after Monday's 38-save effort. "He's been doing that for us all year," Doan said of Smith, who is 5-1-1 with a 2.29 GAA in seven starts versus Anaheim. "We just have to find a way to get him some offensive support." Radim Vrbata could help with that. The Coyotes forward has six goals and nine points while scoring in seven of eight games. Vrbata scored twice in a 4-2 home win over Anaheim on Nov. 23. Ducks forward Corey Perry has five goals and four assists in a six-game point streak against Phoenix. He leads Anaheim with five goals since its last regulation loss Jan. 4. The Ducks have 16 goals during their home winning streak.
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