The Phoenix Coyotes have earned at least one point in each of their last four games since losing to the Detroit Red Wings last week.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes, Detroit visits the desert again Thursday night. Hoping to match its longest point streak of the season, Phoenix tries to avoid a ninth loss in 10 meetings in the series.
The Red Wings (18-13-5) have gone 27-6-3 against the Coyotes since the start of 2006-07, including playoffs. Pavel Datsyuk, who has 71 points in his last 46 games in the series, notched a goal and an assist as Detroit pulled out a 3-2 win at Phoenix last Monday.
The Coyotes (15-15-6), though, have since gone 2-0-2 to stay in the playoff hunt. Sitting a few points out of the Western Conference’s eighth and final postseason spot, Phoenix beat Los Angeles 3-1 on Tuesday.
“It keeps us in the game. The only way you’re going to have a chance is to win,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We have a real good group. They want to do well, and they respect what we’re trying to do. Sometimes it doesn’t go as well as you like, but it’s not from a lack of trying.”
Kyle Chipchura set up both of Keith Yandle’s goals for the Coyotes, who recorded a point in five straight contests during a 3-0-2 stretch Jan. 28-Feb. 4.
“We have to play like our lives depend on it, and they do,” said Yandle, who has 12 points over his last 11 home games. “If we play this way, we can make a push at it.”
Detroit is coming off an important win of its own, 3-2 over Colorado on Monday. Jimmy Howard made 22 saves to earn his 15th victory for the Red Wings, who were blown out 7-1 by Chicago the day before.
“The guys responded,” coach Mike Babcock said. “On a back-to-back, it was a real big win for our team. We needed it.”
Detroit, which occupies seventh place in the West, could prove especially dangerous down the stretch with Damien Brunner back on track. The 27-year-old rookie tallied his team best-tying 11th goal to snap a 15-game drought Monday.
“It was good for him, real relief for a goal scorer,” said Babcock, whose team has gone 6-0-1 over its last seven games when Brunner posts at least one point. “Like most goal scorers he’s probably streaky.”
Brunner will try to build on his impressive showing against Phoenix’s Jason LaBarbera, who’s started the last five games with Mike Smith sidelined due to an upper-body injury.
LaBarbera, who has gone 1-4-2 with a 3.83 goals-against average over seven career starts versus Detroit, made a season-high 39 saves against the Kings.
“It’s tough when you play once a month and you put a lot of pressure on yourself to deliver on that opportunity,” said LaBarbera, who made one start over a 26-game stretch Jan. 28 to March 21.
“That’s my role and I’ve had ups and downs with it, but getting some games here makes you feel like when I was younger and played a lot. It’s gratifying to get that feeling again.”
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 28 shots in last week’s win at Phoenix, but Howard could be in goal Thursday. Howard has gone 10-0-1 with a 2.12 GAA over his last 11 games in the series, including playoffs. He is 8-1-1 over 10 career road starts against the Coyotes.
Phoenix traded forward Steve Sullivan to New Jersey for a seventh-round draft pick Wednesday and sent center Matthew Lombardi to Anaheim for left wing Brandon McMillan.