The Phoenix Coyotes have been outshot in all but one game this season. They hope to buck the trend against the NHL’s leading scorer.
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Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning bring one of the league’s most potent offenses to Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night.
The Coyotes (3-3-3) snapped a three-game losing streak Thursday night, winning 4-2 in Detroit as Ilya Bryzgalov was forced to make 43 saves.
“It keeps you in the game all the time, the whole game,” Bryzgalov said. “But don’t need that many shots.”
Not that Bryzgalov seems to mind. Bryzgalov is 5-0-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average in his last six starts when facing 40 or more shots. He’s won his only two starts against Tampa Bay and is likely to be in net Saturday.
“He gives us a chance to win every time he’s in there,” coach Dave Tippett told the team’s official website. “When you look at our top players and their production so far, it hasn’t been very good. The margin for error is pretty slim, and he makes sure that margin for error stays close. He’s been the one constant.”
Phoenix’s offense isn’t giving its goaltending much help. Ed Jovanovski and Eric Belanger lead the Coyotes with only six points, and they’re each scoreless in three of their last four games.
Meanwhile, Stamkos continues to thrive for the Lightning (6-2-1). The second-year star has eight points in his last three games, including three assists in a 5-3 victory Wednesday night over Pittsburgh and a hat trick Oct. 22 at Atlanta.
The Lightning, scoring 3.56 goals per game, trailed the Penguins 3-1 in the first period and pulled goaltender Mike Smith in favor of Dan Ellis. Tampa Bay responded by scoring four unanswered goals and Ellis stopped all 24 shots he faced.
“I think we’re always coming back,” coach Guy Boucher said. “Whether we’re trailing by one, two, sometimes even three, that’s a trademark of our game that we have. I think that’s a tribute to the character on the players we have on this team.”
Stamkos improved his point total to 18 and is also among the league leaders with a plus-8 rating. The Lightning have won 12 of the 14 games in Stamkos’ career in which he has three or more points.
Martin St. Louis scored two goals and added an assist for the Lightning.
“We have a long way to go, but I love the way this team battles,” St. Louis said. “We’re in games no matter what. We bring it.”
Despite Ellis’ solid effort in relief of Smith, Tampa Bay’s goaltending has been an issue. Two of the Penguins’ first-period goals came short-handed, and the Lightning are near the bottom in the NHL with an .881 save percentage.
The Lightning played Wednesday without Simon Gagne (stiff neck), Dominic Moore (groin) and Matt Smaby (illness). They’re all listed as day-to-day.
The Coyotes have won two of the last three meetings after dropping the previous six. Tampa Bay has won four of the last five in Phoenix.