Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 3/22/12
Following a nearly perfect February, wins have been hard to come by this month for a Phoenix Coyotes team in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. Making matters worse, they'll have to host the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night without their captain. The NHL suspended Phoenix right wing Shane Doan three games Wednesday for elbowing Jamie Benn in the head during Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss to Dallas. Doan was also suspended three games in 2010, making him a repeat offender under the league's collective bargaining agreement. He has played in all 74 games this season and ranks third on the team in goals (21), assists (26) and points (47). Doan had two goals the last time the Coyotes faced Colorado, a 6-1 home win for Phoenix on Jan. 16. The Coyotes (36-26-12) and Stars entered Tuesday's game tied atop the Pacific Division, but with the shootout victory Dallas took a one-point lead. The loss dropped Phoenix, 3-5-3 in March after an 11-0-1 February, into an eighth-place tie with Los Angeles, though the Kings have a game in hand. "We found a way to get a point and we move on," coach Dave Tippett said. The Coyotes didn't look like they were going to get a point when they trailed 3-1 entering the third period. Oliver Ekman-Larsson's short-handed goal at 8:51 of the third got Phoenix within one, and Ray Whitney tied the score with 5:02 remaining with his 23rd goal. It marked the third time in five games the Coyotes rallied from a two-goal, third-period deficit to earn at least one point, but the team knows it can't continue to play that way. "We've been in that spot too many times," said Lauri Korpikoski, who scored in the first period. "We're spending too much energy chasing from behind." If Phoenix falls behind again Thursday, it might not be able to stage a comeback against a Colorado team that has been stingy defensively, allowing one goal in each of its last three games. The Avs arrive in Arizona with a 5-0-1 record since March 10 and having won 11 of their last 15. They defeated Calgary 2-1 on Tuesday when David Jones scored 3:51 into overtime. Paul Stastny added his 19th goal of the season, and second in the last two games after scoring just once in his previous 12 contests. By beating the Flames, Colorado (40-30-5) moved into sole possession of seventh place in the West with 85 points - one more than the Coyotes and Kings. "A huge win for us and a huge two points," said Semyon Varlamov, who made 31 saves. "We're in a battle for a playoff spot and it's not going to be easy." Varlamov has been instrumental to Colorado's playoff push, posting a 1.91 goals-against average while winning his last five starts. He is 10-2-0 with a 1.48 GAA and two shutouts since Feb. 22. "He's playing great for us," defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "We're going to continue to try and get better in front of him and limit (the opponent's) chances, and if we do that we have a good chance of winning." Varlamov has been in net for all three games against the Coyotes this season. He stopped 25 shots in a 3-2 win Dec. 29, but surrendered nine total goals in losing the other two. Phoenix's Mike Smith was in net for both wins against the Avs - stopping 77 of 79 shots - and is 3-0-1 with a 0.98 GAA in four career starts versus Colorado. He is 3-4-2 with a 3.02 GAA and a shutout in March, however, after recording a 1.42 GAA while winning all 11 of his February starts.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jerry Richardson selling Carolina Panthers amid investigation

Roy Williams honored late Pat Summitt during game at Tennessee

Burfict responds to Smith-Schuster's TD celebration

Antonio Brown taken to hospital for further evaluation

Cam Newton offers support for Panthers owner

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Captain Munnerlyn calls benching ‘slap in the face’

Report: Jerry Richardson would ask to shave women’s legs

Twitter reacts to Thomas Davis' dirty hit on Davante Adams

Randall Cobb splits defenders with sick move on catch-and-run TD

Eli Manning's two TDs against Eagles vault Manning family to 1,000 TDs in regular season

Stephen Strasburg says he may skip future All-Star games due to injury concerns

Top takeaways from NFL Week 15

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Five MLB teams that should trade for Manny Machado

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Eight NFL teams who simply need to start over

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NHL 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 Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mr. Jones goes to Washington

NHL Weekender: Bolts keep striking, Preds on the hunt

The 'It's the most wonderful bowl of the year' quiz

Donald Trump's quotes vs. the sports world in 2017

Chargers are the AFC team no one wants to play in January

The 'It's always chilly in Indiana' quiz

NFL puts safety entirely on players, again

Most important player on every team in each bowl matchup

NFL Week 15 Predictions

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Boogie, Z-Bo reach out and punch someone

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