Coyotes vs. Blues Preview
With No. 1 goalie Jaroslav Halak expected to be in net for Friday night's rematch at St. Louis, the Blues appear to be in good position to extend their winning streak to five games.
Halak has never faced the Coyotes but is 10-4-2 with a 1.73 goals-against average and three shutouts at home this season. In his last start at the Scottrade Center on Sunday, Halak made 32 saves in a 2-0 win over Nashville.
According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Blues -142 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Coyotes. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 62% of more than 373 bets for this game have been placed on the Blues -142.
Coach Davis Payne decided to give Halak the night off Tuesday against Chicago and Conklin stepped up, stopping 25 shots in a 3-1 win. St. Louis (19-12-5) made things a bit easier for Conklin by firing 43 shots on Marty Turco, the first time the team got to 40 in 33 games.
Vladimir Sobotka, Brad Boyes and Brad Winchester scored for the Blues, who are on the verge of entering the new year with 20 wins for the first time since 2003-04.
Payne thought it was one of the team's best performances of the season.
"It was a pretty good watermark for our club," Payne said. "I thought guys came with the right energy, guys came to make sure we skated through the battles. It was a pretty solid hockey game by our team."
The Blues weren't nearly as sound in a 5-3 loss to Phoenix on Nov. 13.
Conklin stopped 22 of 26 shots and St. Louis allowed the Coyotes to convert on three of six power plays. Phoenix's Ray Whitney had one of those man-advantage goals and finished with a hat trick and a career high-tying five points.
That first meeting came with the Blues in the midst of a five-game losing streak and the Coyotes on a win streak that would reach seven.
St. Louis is playing much better now, having won four in a row.
Phoenix (17-12-7) has been scuffling a bit lately but is coming off a 6-3 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday, its third win in eight games.
After being limited to one goal in each of their previous four contests, the Coyotes got off to a quick start, scoring four times in the first period. They finished with a season high in goals as Shane Doan had two and added an assist, Scottie Upshall had a goal and two assists and Keith Yandle added three assists.
"Every day is a new challenge for us,'' coach Dave Tippett said. "Going forward, the consistency has to be better.''
Phoenix, which hasn't won two in a row since its seven-game run ended in late November, needs to figure out how to play with the same intensity on the road. The Coyotes have scored one or no goals in four of their last six away games.
Ilya Bryzgalov was somewhat shaky Wednesday, allowing three goals on nine shots in the first period before turning aside all 17 shots the rest of the way. He made 35 saves versus the Blues last month, and is 3-1-1 with a 2.75 GAA and a shutout against them since the start of last season.