The suddenly hot Coyotes are facing a very familiar foe in the Dallas Stars tonight. In their last matchup in Dallas on Dec. 26, the Coyotes got a 1-0 shutout victory and were able to snap the Stars 13-game streak in which they hadn’t lost a game in regulation at home.
Dallas hasn’t been held scoreless since that game against Phoenix, but they have struggled recently. They have lost three straight games since returning from the break and the three games really haven’t been close. They have been outscored 13-5 over that stretch and are coming off of a 3-1 loss in Philadelphia against the Flyers on Saturday night.
The main culprit for Dallas struggles has been their goaltending or their lack there of. It was their major strength back when they were playing good hockey. In his last five starts, Kari Lehtonen has gone 1-4 with a 3.73 GAA. His backup hasn’t been much better. Andrew Raycroft has given up nine goals in his last two starts after being really solid during the month of December. Dallas does feature some elite offensive talent, but it is hard to outscore teams night in and night out when your goalies are struggling.
Phoenix’s goaltending has been the complete opposite of Dallas’ in their last two wins. Ilya Bryzgalov will be looking for his third consecutive shutout. He has stopped all 51 shots that he has faced over the past two games. In Bryz’s last start against Dallas, he stopped 33 of 35 shots in the Coyotes 5-2 victory in Phoenix. Jason LaBarbera was the Coyotes starter in net when these two teams last faced one another back in December, but he should be on the bench tonight.
If the Coyotes get a win tonight, it would be their 500th victory since coming to Phoenix.