Flames-Coyotes Preview

The Phoenix Coyotes’ late-season surge may come as little
surprise given their runs the past two years, though their current
stretch has been just as impressive.

Recent meetings with the Calgary Flames have gone their way as
well.

Streaking Phoenix looks to earn its seventh consecutive win both
overall and against fading Calgary on Thursday night at Jobing.com
Arena.

The Coyotes (33-21-9) sat in 12th place in the Western
Conference after a loss to Anaheim on Jan. 31, but an 11-0-1
February has propelled them into the Pacific Division lead with 19
games remaining.

A win Thursday would give Phoenix a winning streak of at least
seven games in the second half of each of the last three seasons.
It qualified for the postseason after winning nine straight in
March 2010, and again after taking eight in a row in February
2011.

The Coyotes capped February with a 2-1 shootout win over
Vancouver on Tuesday, avenging their only loss of the month.
They’ll now seek to win eight straight at home for the first time
since a 10-game run from Nov. 21-Dec. 29, 2009.

“That was a heck of a month by any team’s standards and we had
to earn (wins) both home and on the road,” said Ray Whitney, who
has a goal in three straight games. “We beat some quality
teams.”

Mike Smith made 39 saves to extend his franchise-record winning
streak to 11 games while boasting a 1.42 goals-against average
during that span.

“Obviously, we’ve done some good things,” Smith said. “I think
we’ve improved, and this month has been good for us. We’ve moved up
the standings drastically and we just have to keep pushing, keep
going forward.”

If Phoenix’s recent success against Calgary is any indication,
it has a solid chance of continuing its run. The Coyotes have
beaten the Flames six straight times, including a 4-3 shootout
victory last Thursday in which it rallied from a two-goal
deficit.

Whitney had a goal and an assist in that contest, which marked
Calgary’s second defeat during a winless four-game homestand.

The Flames (28-24-11), who fell 3-1 to St. Louis on Monday, are
fighting for one of the West’s final playoff spots but have been
outscored 18-9 over the last four.

Captain Jarome Iginla’s only point over his last five games was
an assist against the Coyotes.

“Nobody in our room has given up or thinking now we’re done,”
Iginla said.

Though the Flames lost seven of 12 in February, they picked up
at least one point in 10 games. Following Thursday’s contest,
Calgary will face Anaheim on Friday and Dallas on Sunday – two
teams it’s battling for a playoff spot.

David Moss, who has been out since injuring his ankle Nov. 12
and appears ready to return, said this upcoming stretch is
crucial.

“You look at the teams around us and everyone seems to be
winning and getting points,” Moss said. “We need the points right
now. We’re just looking for two points in Phoenix and after that
we’ll move to Anaheim.”

Miikka Kiprusoff, who will start Thursday, is 0-2-2 with a 3.95
GAA in his previous four starts after going 5-0-2 with a 1.67 GAA
from Feb. 3-18. He’s 0-3-1 with a 3.22 GAA in his last four starts
against Phoenix.

Smith has won his three career starts versus Calgary with a 1.91
GAA.