After picking up a narrow and potentially costly victory last night, the Coyotes try to make it two victories in a row this evening against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Phoenix has won just two of its last six games and suffered a heart-breaking loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday when it allowed the game-winning goal with only 0.1 seconds left on the clock in regulation. The Coyotes got another scare in Florida last night, but held on for a 2-1 victory over the Panthers thanks in part to power-play goals from Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata.
The Panthers were awarded a penalty shot with 25 seconds left to play after a pair of Phoenix skaters dislodged the net with the Coyotes nursing their one- goal lead. Florida's Stephen Weiss skated in on LaBarbera, who blocked his shot and laid on the ice as the puck skated along the goal line and came to a stop.
"I was laying there and I looked at our bench, there was no reaction. Then I looked at their bench and there was no reaction, and I'm wondering what the heck is going on here?" LaBarbera said. "I could hear the ref kind of coming in and saying whatever and looked beside me and it's just sitting there."
LaBarbera didn't come into the game until 3:29 into the third when starter Mike Smith suffered an injury. He made 19 saves while LaBarbera stopped all shots he faced to give Phoenix a 4-6-0 mark in December.
"[LaBarbera's] role on our team is just that. Whenever he is called upon, he's got to do his job. Great to see him jump in there and do it," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.
Should he get the call again tonight in what would be his 150th career NHL game, LaBarbera will look to put together another stingy effort versus the Hurricanes. Phoenix has won three of its last four trips to Carolina and each of its last four wins at the RBC Center have come by way of a shutout, dating back to a 2-0 victory there on Feb. 16, 2001.
Phoenix posted a 4-0 win in its last trip to Raleigh on March 13, 2010, but the Hurricanes countered with a 4-3 overtime win on the road in the only meeting last year. Cam Ward's 36 saves gave the 'Canes their third victory in their last four versus the Coyotes overall.
The Hurricanes were on the other end of an overtime decision on Sunday, losing 3-2 at Florida. Ward made 22 saves, but was tagged for the game-tying goal while shorthanded at the 5:47 mark of the third before yielding the overtime winner to Kris Versteeg with 1:52 to play in overtime.
"We're not happy losing that one point, but there's a lot of good things in our game right now," said Carolina head coach Kirk Muller.
Carolina played a fourth game in a row without leading scorer Jeff Skinner due to a concussion, while defenseman Joni Pitkanen has missed the past five with a concussion.