Lightning try to build momentum in Phoenix
The Tampa Bay Lightning will take aim at a third consecutive victory tonight, when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes for a battle at Jobing.com Arena.
Tampa is tied for last in the Eastern Conference with Carolina and the New York Islanders and the Bolts did little to change their status earlier this month. The Lightning began January on an 0-6-1 slide, but Guy Boucher's club has since posted wins over Boston and Dallas and Tampa would like to keep the momentum going this evening in the desert.
The Lightning followed up Tuesday's 5-3 home win over the Bruins with Friday's road victory in Dallas. Teddy Purcell netted two goals, including the game- winner in the third period to lift the Lightning to the 2-1 decision at American Airlines Center.
Purcell scored early in the first period, then again early in the third, and Martin St. Louis chipped in with two assists for the Lightning. Mathieu Garon was stellar in goal, stopping 27-of-28 shots in the victory.
"Right from the first shift, you could see he was battling hard and he gets the result from his work ethic," Boucher said of Purcell.
Tonight marks the end of a brief two-game trip for the Lightning, who ended a six-game road losing streak on Friday and are 7-16-3 as the guest this season.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes will try to earn just their third win of the month tonight after posting a 2-3-4 record so far in January. Phoenix last played on Thursday, when it dropped a shootout decision against visiting Detroit. Todd Bertuzzi scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout to lift the Red Wings to the 3-2 victory.
Raffi Torres and Gilbert Brule scored in regulation and Kyle Chipchura had two assists for the Coyotes, losers in five of their last six games. Mike Smith stopped 33-of-35 shots through overtime before getting beat by Bertuzzi in the shootout.
"We had a group out there that fought hard to get the points," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "It's too bad we couldn't come away with two."
Coyotes forward Daymond Langkow left Thursday's game in the first period with a cut to his face and never returned. He is questionable for tonight's contest, while defenseman Adrian Aucoin could miss a fourth straight game due to a lower-body injury.
Phoenix opened a six-game homestand on Thursday and fell to 9-8-4 as the host this season. The Coyotes will also welcome Ottawa, Anaheim and San Jose on this residency before closing the stand against the Red Wings on Feb. 6.
Tampa Bay won both meetings against the Coyotes last year and outscored Phoenix by a combined 11-3 score in those contests. The Lightning have won three of four and nine of 11 in this series overall and the Bolts have also claimed two in a row and five of six in the desert.