Avalanche, Coyotes clash in Phoenix

The Avalanche don't care how they win as long as the victories keep coming. Very few wins in March are hurting the Coyotes' playoff chances.

Colorado goes after a third straight victory this evening as it tangles with a Phoenix club that missed an opportunity at first place last time out.

Coming off a big road victory over the Rangers, the Avalanche were able to slip by the Flames 2-1 in overtime on Tuesday. Paul Stastny had Colorado's lone regulation goal and then saw the rebound of his shot in the extra frame stuffed home by David Jones with 1:09 on the clock.

Semyon Varlamov came up with 31 saves for the Avs, who are 7-1-1 in their past nine games and sit seventh overall in the Western Conference with 85 points. That is one up on both the Kings and Coyotes as well as two ahead of the Sharks and Flames.

"This was a huge win four us," said Jones. "Stastny made a nice play to the net and we got a bounce. I didn't even see it, but that doesn't matter in the end."

Chuck Kobasew and Erik Johnson are both questionable tonight due to back injuries for the Avalanche, who will play four of their next five on the road and have won five of their past seven as the guest.

The Coyotes return home after dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Stars on Tuesday. The two clubs entered with the same amount of points, but Dallas is now one up on Phoenix for the lead in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes have the same number of points as the Kings, but Los Angeles holds the eighth spot because it has a game in hand over Phoenix. The Kings do host the Blues tonight.

Phoenix trailed by a 3-1 score heading into the third period, but got a short- handed goal from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and a goal from Ray Whitney on the power play to earn the point. Lauri Korpikoski also scored, while Mike Smith ended with 30 saves.

"Some guys I know weren't 100 percent, but they gave us everything they got," said Coyotes coach Dave Tippett. "We found a way to get a point and now we move on."

Phoenix fell to 3-5-3 in March following an 11-0-1 mark last month following a feisty lose to Dallas. The two teams engaged in a bit of a melee at 5:54 in the second period when Coyotes captain Shane Doan hit the Stars' Jamie Benn with an elbow to the head.

Doan was hit with a two-minute penalty for elbowing and also got five minutes for fighting after getting challenged by Dallas' Brenden Morrow. Doan had a hearing with the league on Wednesday and was handed a three-game suspension.

"I accept the NHL's decision and ruling. I am thankful that Jamie Benn was not hurt on the play. I recognize how bad it looked but there was no intent to injure him," said Doan. "Jamie Benn is a class act and I appreciate how he handled everything. I apologize to the NHL, my teammates and our fans for missing the next three games as we continue to fight for a playoff spot."

The Coyotes play five of their next six at home after wrapping up a four-game swing.

The 'Yotes have won two of three versus the Avs this season, including a 6-1 win at home on Jan. 16. Doan and Boyd Gordon both scored twice and Smith ended with 38 saves to give the Coyotes their seventh victory in nine games versus the Avalanche.

Phoenix is also 7-0-2 in its past nine at home when facing Colorado.