Posted March 30, 2012 on AP on Fox
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.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Sore Vrbata comes up big in Coyotes' big win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata had just taken the ninth day of a 10-day penicillin regimen when the allergic reaction began. It was March 14, the first day of the Coyotes four-game road trip in Vancouver. It was bad enough that Vrbata suffered through a painful and migrating rash that was exacerbated by perspiration and the lack of ventilation caused by his hockey equipment. But...

Smith needs big performance against Ducks

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...

Milestone night for ageless wonder Whitney

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ray Whitney was at a crossroads. The San Jose Sharks had just bought out their 1991 second-round pick after a season spent mostly in the minor leagues. His six-year NHL career had seemingly come to an end. It was time for a heart-to-heart with his dad. "We were talking (about playing in) Europe. We were talking police department -- talking a lot of other...

Coyotes now tied for first in Pacific

Mike Smith had 44 saves in his second straight shutout and Ray Whitney passed 1,000 career points with a goal and assist in the Phoenix Coyotes' 4-0 rout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Antoine Vermette and Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes, who are tied with Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles in points with 91, but the Kings own the tiebreaker...

Minor League Talk For Phoenix

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail, Anthony LeBlanc and his group of businessmen once known as Ice Edge Holdings are back in the Phoenix hockey picture. Only this time it is not to make an ownership bid on the financially moribund Phoenix Coyotes but to manage Jobing.com Arena in suburban Glendale and try to bring in a minor-league hockey team if the Coyotes move to another...

Smith, Whitney lead Coyotes' rout of Anaheim

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Mike Smith had 44 saves in his second straight shutout and Ray Whitney passed 1,000 career points with a goal and assist in the Phoenix Coyotes' 4-0 rout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Antoine Vermette and Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes, who are tied with Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles in points with 91 but...

Ducks routed by Whitney, Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Mike Smith had 44 saves in his second straight shutout and Ray Whitney passed 1,000 career points with a goal and assist in the Phoenix Coyotes' 4-0 rout of the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Antoine Vermette and Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes, who with three games to play are tied with Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles...

Smith, Coyotes shut out Sharks for third time

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Radim Vrbata had been plagued for two weeks by an allergic reaction to penicillin. His return helped restore the Phoenix Coyotes to a healthy position in the tight Western Conference playoff scramble. After a two-game absence, Vrbata scored twice and Mike Smith had 38 saves to shut out San Jose for the third time this season, leading the Coyotes to a critical...

Critical victory for Coyotes

Radim Vrbata scored twice and Mike Smith made 38 saves to shut out San Jose for the third time this season, leading the Phoenix Coyotes to a critical 2-0 victory Thursday night over the Sharks. Vrbata, who missed the previous two games because of a bad reaction to penicillin, had a power-play goal in the second period, then scored 8:17 into the third period on a slick pass from...

Phoenix Coyotes G Mike Smith posts 44-save shutout against Anaheim Ducks

Mike Smith posted his second straight shutout with a 4-0 Phoenix Coyotes win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. It’s one more step for the ‘Yotes who are looking for a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs under coach Dave Tippett. Smith’s prowess in net has propelled a 6-1-3 run in his last 10 after hitting a bit of a snag to open the month with four straight...

Huskies Mike Lee Signs with the Desert Dogs

This was one of the more shocking pieces of news to surface today as Saint Cloud State Huskies goalie Mike Lee has signed a professional contract with the Phoenix Coyotes. Goon's Notebook: Mike Lee never was able to beat the UND Fighting Sioux in three season of play with the SCSU Huskies, Lee had a 0-6-1 record against the UND.  With the departure of Lee,  Ryan Faragher...

Cam Gore: Coyotes leap frog into 8th and Sharks drop to 9th

Mike Smith shut-out the San Jose Sharks for the third time this year by stopping all 37 shots they fired at the Coyotes goalie by the score of 2-0. So many golden scoring chances for the Sharks Thursday night but the same old story for San Jose; no finish around the net. There were very few rebounds from Mike Smith which means they didn’t get enough traffic in front of him...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.