Arizona (29-18-5) at Detroit (25-18-8)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Detroit, MI
Temp: 77° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Tue Jan 26, 2010
  • TV: NBCS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Phoenix Coyotes have surprisingly stayed in the playoff mix this season, maintaining a spot even ahead of the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference standings.

The Coyotes’ struggles on the road against the Red Wings, however, have continued this season, and they will try to snap a seven-game skid at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday night.

Given their respective conclusions to the 2008-09 season, it’s doubtful most would have expected Phoenix to contend for its first playoff berth since 2001-02 and Detroit to currently sit on the bubble in its hunt for a 19th consecutive postseason appearance.

The Coyotes filed for bankruptcy protection in May as the Red Wings were heading toward their second straight Stanley Cup finals appearance. Phoenix (29-18-5) has emerged from that low point to occupy fifth place in the West, five points ahead of Detroit (25-18-8).

The Coyotes, though, could use some better defensive efforts to maintain that position. Beginning with a 4-1 home loss to Detroit on Jan. 2, Phoenix has allowed 39 goals during a 4-5-1 stretch and given up at least four goals in seven of those contests.

That includes Saturday night’s 4-2 defeat to Washington, the Coyotes’ fourth loss in five road games. Lauri Korpikoski(notes) kept Phoenix in the game with his second career two-goal performance, but his team couldn’t find the equalizer after his second score with 13:36 remaining.

The Coyotes also gave the Capitals seven power-play opportunities, which were converted into two goals.

“We took too many penalties,” coach Dave Tippett said. “When you give the top power-play (unit) that many chances, it wears you down. It comes down to discipline.”

To avoid its third loss in four games, Tippett’s club with have to earn its third win in 16 matchups with the Red Wings. Phoenix opened this season’s series with a 3-2 overtime victory at home on Oct. 22, but has dropped the past two meetings, including a 3-2 loss in Detroit on Dec. 14.

The Coyotes, however, will face a Red Wings team that’s dropped four of five and is trying to avoid a third straight defeat at home following Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles.

Valtteri Filppula(notes) and Todd Bertuzzi(notes) scored in the first 7:31, but the Red Wings blew a two-goal lead for the third time during their current 1-2-2 stretch, giving up the go-ahead score with 7:57 remaining.

“We had a good chance to gain a couple points on these guys, and after the first 10 minutes we stopped skating,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) said. “We got outworked. The whole second period it felt like we spent in our zone. They carried most of the game.”

The Red Wings could get a boost with defenseman Niklas Kronwall’s(notes) expected return from a knee injury.

Kronwall, who hasn’t played since Nov. 21, had a career-best 51 points last season, including 45 assists. He had five goals and eight assists in 21 games at the time of his injury, and nine assists in the last 13 matchups with Phoenix.

Forward Tomas Holmstrom(notes), however, is not expected to return from his foot injury on Tuesday.

Holmstrom has three goals this season against the Coyotes, who haven’t won in Detroit since March 7, 2006.

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Tuesday, Jan 26