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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, November 21st (All times Eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (15-5-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (14-4-3), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Still without a regulation loss as the hosting club this season, the Phoenix Coyotes look to extend a 12-game home point streak over the Colorado Avalanche in a showdown on Thursday night.

The Coyotes play the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight and sit 9-0-1 as the hosting club. They are also well-rested, having been idle since a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata and Lauri Korpikoski all enjoyed solid games, combining for 10 points. Hanzal had a goal and tied career highs with three assists and four points, Vrbata matched a personal best with three assists and Korpikoski had a goal and two assists to tie his career high of three points.

However, defenseman Connor Murphy stole a bit of the show by scoring in his first career NHL game.

"I got lucky it went through, and I think I almost broke my hand punching the ice. I was so excited," said Murphy of his goal.

Unfortunately for the youngster, he was assigned back to the American Hockey League on Sunday.

Shane Doan, Michael Stone and Mike Ribeiro added goals versus the Lightning and Mike Smith made 27 saves as Phoenix moved to 3-0-1 in its last four and 8-1-1 over its previous 10 games.

Korpikoski is dealing with an upper-body injury and the Coyotes recalled forward Tim Kennedy from the AHL in case he can't play tonight.

The Coyotes have gone 9-0-3 in their last 12 games at home versus the Avalanche and haven't failed to earn a point as the host in this series since a 4-3 setback on March 29, 2007.

Phoenix is 4-0-1 in its last five overall meetings with Colorado and 10-1-2 in the previous 13.

Smith is a solid 8-1-2 with a 1.65 goals against average and one shutout in 11 games (8 starts) lifetime versus Colorado.

The Avalanche will try to reverse that trend in the start of a quick two-game road trip. Colorado will also visit Los Angeles on Saturday, but will play the swing without leading scorer Matt Duchene.

Duchene is out with a strained oblique suffered in a loss on Nov. 16. He is pacing the Avs with 12 goals and 20 points.

"He skated (Wednesday). He wanted to play (Thursday). I don't see rushing on this injury. Take the time. We need him 100 percent, not 80 or 85 percent" said Avs head coach Patrick Roy. "I think it's important for him to make sure he takes care of himself and be 100 percent when he comes back."

Roy's club did fine without Duchene on Tuesday, snapping a season-high three- game skid with a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves and Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist. John Mitchell, PA Parenteau, Cody McLeod and Gabriel Landeskog each lit the lamp as well.

"We did not like that feeling," Parenteau said of losing three in a row. "We don't want to be losing again. We were motivated and we responded."

Colorado's Tyson Barrie and Maxime Talbot both posted two assists, with Talbot picking up his first points in nine games since being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers for Steve Downie back on Oct. 31.

The Avs are set to play six of their next eight on the road, where they are 6-2-0 this season, and Varlamov is expected to get the start tonight. He is 2-4-1 with a 3.39 GAA in his career versus the Coyotes.

11/21 10:53:05 ET

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