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.