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A long winning streak highlighted by close victories has given the Phoenix Coyotes a slight lead in the Pacific Division. The Philadelphia Flyers are trying to widen their lead in their own races.
The Coyotes attempt to extend their run to eight wins in a row when they face the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers for the only time this season Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center.
Phoenix (32-19-9) has tied its season high with seven consecutive victories with six coming by one goal, including the last five. That trend continued with Saturday's 3-2 win over Nashville to open a five-game trip.
"We played a solid road game. I don't think we made too many mistakes," coach Dave Tippett said.
The Coyotes haven't had a longer winning streak since a nine-game run March 4-21.
Phoenix has won seven of eight on the road, and that success coupled with the recent winning streak are major reasons it leads the competitive Pacific.
The Coyotes own a one-point edge on second-place San Jose while leading the third-place logjam between Dallas, Los Angeles and Anaheim by five points.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't surprised by the Coyotes' success.
"Last year that was the talk, they surprised teams," he told the Flyers' official website. "They had another strong start. They dipped there a little in the beginning, but now they're red-hot. We have to make sure we're ready to do our work."
The Flyers (39-15-5) are atop the East, but Atlantic Division rival Pittsburgh is six points behind. Carrying some road success home could help them increase their advantage over the Penguins.
Philadelphia is among the best home teams in the NHL with a 19-8-2 record but fell 1-0 to Los Angeles in its most recent game there Feb. 13.
Since then, the Flyers enjoyed a 3-1-0 trip that was capped with Sunday's 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers in which they didn't record a penalty for the third time ever.
Right wings Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist. Giroux, the team leader with 54 points, has 18 points over the last 16 games with the Flyers winning 12, while Carter has 11 goals and seven assists in a 17-game span.
Carter is second on the club with 27 goals and 52 points.
Only Giroux managed a point in a 3-1 loss at Phoenix on Nov. 21, 2009. Carter had a goal and set up Mike Richard's overtime score in a 4-3 win in the last meeting in Philadelphia on Nov. 22, 2008.
A likely matchup against Ilya Bryzgalov could slow down the Flyers and keep Phoenix rolling.
Bryzgalov has won seven starts in a row with a 1.55 goals-against average and two shutouts after making 32 saves against the Predators. He's also won his two career starts versus Philadelphia behind a 1.50 GAA, including a 23-save effort in the most recent meeting.
While Bryzgalov has been superb in net, the Coyotes' scoring has been spread out with 12 players totaling 18 goals over the last seven games and Radim Vrbata leading the way with four.
The Flyers are expected to be without Sean O'Donnell for up to two weeks after he suffered a lower-body injury Sunday. The veteran defenseman has 12 points in 59 games.
|Feb 22 '11||PHX 3 at PHI 2 - OT||S. Doan|
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