The Phoenix Coyotes will try to open an important four-game homestand with a victory, as they welcome the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues for tonight's battle at Jobing.com Arena.
The playoff-hopeful Coyotes have been scuffling for points in recent weeks, going 4-1-4 while alternating losses and wins over their last nine games. Phoenix enters today as the seventh seed in the West, but is just one point ahead of Los Angeles, San Jose and Colorado, who are all off on Sunday.
The Coyotes are also tied with Dallas for first place in the Pacific Division. The Stars, who already have a game in hand over Phoenix, are also idle today.
In addition to tonight's test against the Blues, Phoenix will host San Jose, Anaheim and Columbus during its four-game residency. The Coyotes, who will close the regular season with tests in St. Louis and Minnesota, are 19-12-6 as the host this year.
The Coyotes earned one point on Saturday, losing a shootout decision in San Jose. Michal Handzus scored in the first round of the shootout and Ryane Clowe sealed the 4-3 victory with a goal in the second round.
Daymond Langkow, Derek Morris and Lauri Korpikoski lit the lamp in regulation for Phoenix, while Mike Smith stopped 29 shots in defeat.
"It's unfortunate we couldn't get the two points," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought our guys competed hard and we found a way to get a valuable point."
Phoenix captain Shane Doan will serve the final portion of a three-game suspension tonight. Doan was given the ban for an elbow to the head of Dallas forward Jamie Benn.
The Blues have already clinched a playoff spot, but Ken Hitchcock would still like his club to avoid its fifth loss in six games tonight. St. Louis, which leads the Central Division and Western Conference and is tied for the NHL lead with the New York Rangers at 101 points, is just 1-2-2 over its last five games.
Despite the slump, the Blues still hold a six-point lead over Detroit for first place in the Central with seven games left for both teams. St. Louis is just two points in front of Vancouver for the conference lead. Both the Red Wings and Canucks are off on Sunday.
St. Louis lost a 1-0 shootout decision in Los Angeles on Thursday, dropping the Blues to 2-2-2 on a seven-game road trip that ends tonight. The Blues are just 17-16-5 as the road team this year compared to a stellar 29-4-4 home record. St. Louis will play four of its next five games at home.
The Kings won Thursday's game on Jeff Carter's game-winner in the fourth round of the shootout. Carter raced down the center of the ice and made a quick fake in the slot before slipping a shot in between the legs of Brian Elliott. Chris Stewart had a chance to keep the Blues alive, but his backhander hit the outside of the left post.
Elliott made 37 saves for his seventh shutout of the year. Elliott and teammate Jaroslav Halak have combined for a team-record tying 13 shutouts on the season.
"It's tough not getting a goal but we did get a point. We played a good team game tonight and [Quick] made some big saves at the other end," said Elliott.
Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo suffered an injury to his lower back on Thursday and is questionable for tonight's test.
St. Louis is 2-0 against the Coyotes this season and has won five of eight overall in this series. Phoenix has taken three of the last five meetings in the desert.