Senators aim to silence howl of hot Coyotes
Saturday, 12.05.2009 / 8:00 PM
SENATORS (13-9-4) at COYOTES (16-11-1)
Last 10 —
Ottawa 5-3-2; Phoenix 6-3-1.
Season series —
It's the only meeting of the season between two teams that don't see each other a whole lot. That might be a good thing for the Coyotes, who've dropped five in a row to Ottawa, including a 6-3 decision at Scotiabank Place in their last meeting on Oct. 17, 2008.
Big story —
After a summertime spent in bankruptcy court, a coaching change during training camp and a roster full of new parts, little was expected of the Coyotes this season. But they refuse to go away. The Coyotes have won three in a row overall and three straight at Jobing.com Arena -- and have been among the top eight in the West all season long. They're coming off a 2-1 home win over Calgary.
The Senators prospered by playing most of the first eight weeks of the season at home. But they've hit some potholes on the road, going 0-2-1 in the first three games of a five-game trip, including a 6-3 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday. Ottawa has dropped six in a row on the road since winning at Florida on Oct. 28.
With starting goaltender Pascal Leclaire
still sidelined with a broken jaw, Brian Elliott
has inherited the No. 1 job and made six starts in a row. But he drew criticism from his coach after stopping only 18-of-24 shots in the loss to L.A.
"Brian's fighting the puck right now," said coach Cory Clouston, who will turn to Elliott again tonight. "He's just going to have to find a way to battle through it and turn a tough time into a real positive situation for him."
Phoenix has no one with more than seven goals, so the Coyotes need to get contributions from everyone. That's what happened in Thursday's 2-1 win over Calgary — Petr Prucha ended an 18-game goal drought and Taylor Pyatt got the winner with 3:29 remaining in regulation for his first goal in 14 games.
The line of Pyatt, Daniel Winnik and Vernon Fiddler excelled all night long, helping to shut down Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, the NHL's First Star for November.
"They are never going to be outworked," coach Dave Tippett said. "It's great to see guys like that have success in a game like this because it proves to the rest of the guys that if you're going to beat great teams, this is the way you're going to have to do it ... I think that's the best game he (Pyatt) has played in a Coyotes uniform."
Who's hot —
Ottawa centre Mike Fisher
had two goals against Los Angeles and now has 12 for the season -- one less than he managed in all of 2008-09 … The Coyotes have been winning thanks to the brilliance of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who's among the NHL leaders with a 2.07 goals-against average. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA in his last three games and is 9-3-0 with a 1.81 GAA at home.
Injury report —
Ottawa defenceman Alex Picard, who left Thursday's game with an undisclosed upper-body injury, is out tonight, meaning Chris Campoli — a healthy scratch the last two games — draws back into the lineup. Forward Chris Neil
(knee) is a week to 10 days away from returning … The Coyotes were without defenceman Ed Jovanovski (lower body) and center Peter Mueller (upper body) for Thursday's game.
Stat pack —
Since taking over for Leclaire, Elliott is 2-3-1 with a 3.13 GAA … Phoenix is 8-3-1 in one-goal games, including its 2-1 win over Calgary on Thursday … Ottawa is 11-4-1 against the Coyotes since the franchise moved from Winnipeg 13 years ago ... The Senators are 8-1-4 in one-goal games.
Puck drop —
To avoid a fourth consecutive loss, the Senators are going to have to get the kind of goaltending Bryzgalov has been providing for the Coyotes — and Elliott hasn't been giving the Senators.
"That's what goaltending is all about in the NHL," Clouston said. "You can't win without it because you do make mistakes ... (but) a goaltender can correct any mistake or most of your mistakes. You look at the top teams and basically, on a given night, they all have goaltenders who can steal you a game."