The Phoenix Coyotes used a February surge to climb to the top of
the Pacific Division, but March got off to a rough start after a
matchup with the Calgary Flames.
Now the Flames are one of the hottest teams in the NHL, while
the Coyotes are clinging to seventh place in the Western
Calgary looks to gain more ground on Phoenix when the teams meet
Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The Coyotes went 11-0-1 last month in one of their signature
late-season runs, though they haven’t been able to carry over that
success. Beginning with a 4-2 loss to the Flames (33-25-12) on
March 1 – ending a six-game winning streak in the series – Phoenix
lost six of seven before beating Vancouver 5-4 on Wednesday.
Ray Whitney had three assists and Antoine Vermette had a goal
and two assists for the Coyotes (35-25-11), who are one point ahead
of eighth-place Colorado and three in front of Calgary, San Jose
and Los Angeles, which are all tied for ninth.
Mike Smith, who won all 11 of his February starts with a 1.42
goals-against average, is 2-3-1 with a 3.11 GAA over his last six
starts after making 39 saves Wednesday.
“If we play well and get our own points, we can control our own
destiny on whether we make the playoffs or not,” coach Dave Tippett
said. “To come out and get points like this is huge for our
The Flames’ last victory over the Coyotes began a 5-1-1 run, and
they’ve won four straight after a 3-2 overtime victory over San
Jose on Tuesday.
Coach Brent Sutter said each game has a playoff-like feel to it
as his team tries to fight its way into the postseason picture.
“You look at the standings and these teams you’re playing,
they’re all emotional games,” Sutter said. “They just get bigger as
they go along.”
Matt Stajan scored the winner to give him two goals and three
assists during a four-game point streak.
“The feeling of winning games, the mood in the locker room is
contagious right now,” Stajan said. “Things happen easier for our
team when we’re playing with confidence, and it just shows how
tight of a group (we have) and how bad we want this.”
Jarome Iginla also scored to give him 30 goals in 11 consecutive
seasons, becoming only the seventh player in league history to
accomplish that feat. He has goals in five straight during his
seven-game point streak – which began with a goal and an assist
against the Coyotes – while totaling seven goals and six assists
during his run.
”I’ve been very fortunate as a shooter to play with some great
passers over the years and I’d love to keep it going, but the
biggest thing, definitely, is this playoff run and the win,”
Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves to improve to 5-0-1 with a 2.60
GAA in a run that began after stopping 29 shots versus Phoenix. He
had gone 0-3-1 with a 3.22 GAA in his four previous starts against
Whitney had a goal and an assist before netting the shootout
winner in a 4-3 win in Calgary on Feb. 23, helping Phoenix to its
third straight road win in the series.