Coyotes look to extend home streak as Avalanche visit

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO
STATS Writer

The Phoenix Coyotes will look look to extend their longest home winning streak in four years Thursday night when they face the Avalanche for the first time this season.

Phoenix (14-4-3) is 9-0-1 at home, winning eight straight there after Saturday’s 6-3 victory over Tampa Bay. The Coyotes’ best offensive output of the season assured them of their longest winning streak in the desert since a 10-game run Nov. 21-Dec. 29, 2009.

The most surprising aspect of the streak is Phoenix averaging 4.38 goals as it continues to emerge as unexpected offensive force. The team is fourth in the NHL with 3.29 goals per game after ranking 21st at 2.52 last season.

Phoenix has five players with at least six goals, including a team-leading 10 from captain Shane Doan. He was one of six Coyotes to score against the Lightning.

“I still think our team would rather win 3-1 than 6-4, but we’ll take any win,” center Mike Ribeiro told the team’s official website. “It’s good to have more than one line that can score, especially nowadays when you need at least three lines, and hope that your fourth line will get you a big goal here and there.

“I think the most important thing is that we know that we can come back in games and play 60 minutes and stay focused throughout.”

That’s been mostly true against Colorado (15-5-0).

The Coyotes are 9-0-3 in their last 12 home matchups with the Avalanche.

Doan 27 points over his last 22 games with Colorado. The right wing enters this matchup on a scoring tear, compiling nine goals and four assists in 11 games.

Ribeiro has one goal and four assists in his last three games. He has scored all six of his goals this season at home.

Mike Smith, who had 27 saves Saturday, is 6-0-2 with a 1.46 goals-against average in eight career home starts against Colorado.

The Avalanche are looking to build on their own impressive offensive display. They scored five goals in a row — three in the first period — and coasted to a 5-1 win over Chicago on Tuesday, snapping a season-high three-game slide.

“You always say ‘a win is a win,’ and it is. But at the same time our strength is our team morale and confidence,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “It feels good. It doesn’t mean anything unless we go into Phoenix and play well.”

Landeskog scored his seventh goal of the season against the Blackhawks, but he doesn’t have a point in four career visits to Phoenix.

There’s added pressure to produce with leading scorer Matt Duchene sidelined with an oblique injury.