Final SO

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Arizona leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, March 18th

Coyotes 4

(44-22-5, 93 pts)

Panthers 3

(28-30-11, 67 pts)

7:30 PM ET, March 18, 2010

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 SO T
ARI 0 0 3 14
FLA 1 2 0 03

R. Vrbata (Coyotes - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

C. Stillman (Panthers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

S. Weiss (Panthers - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Coyotes-Panthers Preview


Although the Phoenix Coyotes are about to set a franchise record for wins in a season, coach Dave Tippett is not putting much emphasis on the mark.

Phoenix can achieve the milestone Thursday night, when it tries to win its season-high seventh straight in a matchup with the Florida Panthers.

The Coyotes (43-22-5) defeated Tampa Bay 2-1 on Tuesday to tie the franchise mark for victories set by the Winnipeg Jets in 1984-85. Phoenix has 12 games left to secure sole possession of the record, but Tippett is more concerned with his team improving its play and clinching its first playoff berth in eight seasons.

"For me it's a skewed record because of the shootout situation," Tippett said after the club improved to 3-0-0 on its four-game trip. "It's great for the players. It's great any time you can set a record. They'll have that in their back pocket for the rest of their lives."

Since making a NHL-high seven trades at the deadline, Phoenix has gone 6-0-0 and is second in the Pacific Division, five points behind Western Conference-leading San Jose.

Two new additions have provided the biggest boosts. Lee Stempniak has six goals and two assists since being acquired from Toronto on March 3, while Wojtek Wolski has two goals and two assists since being picked up from Colorado at the deadline.

"We've got a team where everybody complements each other really well," center Matthew Lombardi said after scoring for the second straight game.

Phoenix will try for its first seven-game winning streak since Dec. 28, 2006-Jan. 9, 2007, in large part because of its defense. The Coyotes have surrendered seven goals during their run, and Ilya Bryzgalov will likely be in net Thursday after winning his last five starts with a 0.98 goals-against average.

He made 26 saves in Phoenix's last matchup with Florida, a 4-1 home win Nov. 8, 2008.

Eight points behind eighth-place Boston in the East, the Panthers (28-30-10) have little room for error in their last 14 games if they are going to make the postseason for the first time in a decade.

Coming off an overtime victory at San Jose on Saturday, Florida opened a four-game homestand Tuesday with a 7-3 loss to Washington, which played without Alex Ovechkin. The Panthers allowed their highest goal total at home since a 7-0 loss to Los Angeles on Feb. 3, 2007.

"We left our goalies hang out to dry," said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team had won four of five. "Too many second, third chances around the net. ... You can't expect to get a playoff spot in this league when you show up and you don't play harder than the team you're playing, especially when you're playing the best team in the league."

Tomas Vokoun is expected to be in net Thursday despite giving up three goals and being pulled in the second period against the Capitals. Vokoun is 2-1-0 with a 3.90 GAA in three home starts since the Olympic break.

Nathan Horton could return Thursday after missing 17 games with a fractured tibia. He leads the team with 29 assists and is second to Stephen Weiss with 46 points.