Phoenix Coyotes coach Dave Tippett gladly welcomes his team’s upcoming four-game road trip. Raleigh might not be the best place to start it.
Playing its first road game in a month, Phoenix looks a fourth straight victory Saturday when it faces a Hurricanes team trying for a ninth consecutive home win.
Defenseman Adrian Aucoin(notes) scored in the sixth round of the shootout Wednesday to give the Coyotes (40-22-5) a 4-3 victory over Vancouver. It marked the end of a four-game homestand since the Olympic break and was Phoenix’s fifth straight game on home ice since a 2-1 loss at Colorado on Feb. 12.
“We need to get on the road,” said Tippett, whose club is looking to win four in a row for the first time since a season-best six-game surge from Jan. 26-Feb. 5. “Too much home cooking right now.”
Phoenix won’t get much of that over the next four-plus weeks, playing 11 of its final 15 games on the road. The Coyotes open their trip at RBC Center, where the Hurricanes (28-31-8) have won eight straight since a loss to Tampa Bay on Jan. 18.
Carolina, 9-1-1 in its last 11 overall, is riding its longest home winning streak since a franchise-best 12-game run from Feb. 20-April 7, 2009.
The Hurricanes followed a 4-3 overtime loss at NHL-best Washington on Wednesday with a 4-3 home victory over Pittsburgh the following night, as Ray Whitney(notes) fed newly acquired Brian Pothier(notes) for the game-winner 23 seconds into overtime.
“Two of the best teams in the league - the defending Stanley Cup champion and the potential Presidents’ Trophy winner,” Pothier said. “So great test for us. I think we responded pretty well. At times, we looked tired tonight, but we battled through it.”
While Pothier has two goals and an assist in five games since being acquired from Washington at the trade deadline, Coyotes forward Lee Stempniak(notes) also has made a nice adjustment to his new surroundings.
Stempniak has three goals and an assist in three games since a March 3 trade with Toronto. He scored twice Wednesday and found the back of the net in the shootout.
“You’ve got to love a guy who cares that much, that he comes in and plays so hard to endear himself to his teammates,” Tippett said. “He’s a gritty player.”
With a 1.30 goals-against average while starting each game during the Coyotes’ winning streak, Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) will likely be in net Saturday to try to extend his franchise-record win total to 36. Bryzgalov, though, is 0-3-0 with a 5.06 GAA in three career starts against Carolina. He allowed four goals on 28 shots and was replaced after two periods in the Coyotes’ last matchup with the Hurricanes, a 7-2 loss in Phoenix on Feb. 7, 2009.
In the teams’ last matchup at RBC Center, Carolina won 5-2 on Nov. 21, 2008.