Flames-Coyotes Preview


The Phoenix Coyotes are trying to show improvement at home, and a meeting with the Calgary Flames may be coming at an opportune time.

The Coyotes will try to begin reversing their sluggish stretch on home ice and continue their success over the Flames on Tuesday night.

Phoenix (20-12-9) won nine of its first 10 at home this season, averaging 4.2 goals. But the Coyotes have undermined that run by going 2-5-2 over their last nine games in the desert, mustering 2.7 goals per contest.

They've lost two of the first three on this six-game homestand, squandering a two-goal, second-period lead Saturday in a 5-3 loss to Philadelphia.

"Early in the year we made this a very hard place to play in," coach Dave Tippett told the team's official website. "We started (those games) well and really pushed games along.

"That's what we need to get back to. It comes down to making sure we start well and push the game in the right direction, but then you've got to stay away from the mistakes and push it all the way through. That's what we've been lacking here a little bit lately."

Facing the Flames (15-21-6) could provide a spark.

The Coyotes have won seven of the past eight home meetings, including a 4-2 victory Oct. 22.

They fell 4-1 at Calgary on Dec. 4.

Shane Doan had an assist in that meeting, but he missed the next 12 games with a form of Rocky Mountain Fever.

The Phoenix captain returned Saturday, logging 18:38 of ice time while failing to get a point.

"He was all right," Tippett said. "He probably played a few more minutes that I had planned on."

Doan has one point in nine of his past 11 home matchups with the Flames.

Mike Ribeiro had five goals and three assists during a five-game point streak versus Calgary. That includes scoring twice in the October win.

Mike Smith will likely be back in net looking to continue his home success against Calgary. He's won three of four meetings in the series at Jobing.com Arena, posting a 1.48 goals-against average.

Smith, though, enters this matchup 1-5-2 with a 3.54 GAA over his last nine home games, making 23 saves against the Flyers.

He won't have the assistance of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, one of the Coyotes' top defensemen. Ekman-Larsson is expected to miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury.

The Flames are looking to build on Monday's 4-3 win at Colorado after being outscored 10-1 during a four-game slide.

"It feels very good. It's been a tough little stretch for sure," said Michael Cammalleri, who scored the game-winner with 3:30 left in regulation. "When things like that happen, it's easy to get negative."

Cammalleri, the team leader with 13 goals, has 20 points in 22 career visits to Phoenix. However, he's been held off the score sheet with a minus-3 rating over the past two.

Sean Monahan seems to be shaking out of his slump, scoring twice in three games to match his production from the previous 12.

Still, his 12 goals rank third among rookies, two behind Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon and three back of Tomas Hertl of San Jose. Hertl is recovering from knee surgery, while MacKinnon hurt his ankle blocking a shot Monday.

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