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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 20th (All times Eastern)

Florida Panthers (26-35-8) at Phoenix Coyotes (33-25-11), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Coyotes hope to boost their playoff chances with a third straight victory when they welcome the Florida Panthers for Thursday's clash at Jobing.com Arena.

With 77 points, the Coyotes are occupying the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. Phoenix, however, is just two points ahead of Dallas for the second of the West's two wild card spots and the Stars, who hold a game in hand over the Coyotes, are playing Thursday in Philadelphia.

In addition to winning its last two outings, Phoenix has posted victories in four of five and six of its past eight games. The Coyotes are attempting to get back to the postseason after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009.

Phoenix last played on Monday when it edged the Los Angeles Kings on the road. Jeff Halpern scored the game-winner with 3:05 left in the third period to propel the Coyotes to the 4-3 decision at Staples Center.

With the game tied 3-3 late in the third, a Phoenix counterattack saw a blocked shot ricochet into the left circle, where Halpern was waiting all alone. With Jonathan Quick scrambling following the change of direction, Halpern threw a shot on net that the LA netminder appeared to stop from his back before making another incredible save on the rebound attempt to keep the game tied.

However, at the next stoppage, video review showed Halpern's shot fully cross the goal line before Quick's stick knocked it back into play.

"We have the headset on the bench so we got a call from our video guy saying the puck was in so we were just hoping for the right call," Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett said of Halpern's marker.

Mike Smith, who finished with 36 saves, stood tall the rest of the way to help the Coyotes pick up the valuable win. Keith Yandle notched a goal and an assist, while Rob Klinkhammer and Mikkel Boedker each scored once for Phoenix.

It was the third win in four road games for the Coyotes, who will open a two- game homestand tonight. Phoenix is 20-11-3 as the home club this season and also will host Boston on Saturday.

Phoenix has won two straight and four of its last five games against the Panthers, but Florida has earned a split over its past four trips to the desert.

Although the Panthers are 16 points out of a playoff spot in the East, they have won two of their last three tilts and opened a four-game road trip with Tuesday's surprising win at San Jose.

Roberto Luongo was the star for the Panthers in San Jose, making 53 saves as the Florida Panthers took a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Luongo is 3-2-1 with a 2.48 goals against average and .928 save percentage in six games since coming back to the Panthers in a trade with Vancouver before the deadline. The 34-year-old also played with Florida from 2000-06 and Tuesday's performance marked the fifth time he posted 50 or more saves in a Panthers sweater.

Brandon Pirri had a goal and an assist while Scottie Upshall and Quinton Howden also lit the lamp for the Panthers, who entered the game having lost four of five.

Pirri has three goals and four assists in eight games since Florida general manager Dale Tallon picked him up from Chicago for a pair of draft picks at the trade deadline. The 22-year-old forward was a second-round pick by the Blackhawks in 2009.

"I was fortunate enough that Dale believed in me, and I want to prove him right," said Pirri.

Florida, which will complete its road trip with a stops in Los Angeles and Anaheim, is just 13-20-3 as the visiting team this season.

03/20 10:49:09 ET

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Final
DUKE 47
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UNC 41
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0
 
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
KAN 2
DET 3
Final
CHC 8
LOS 7
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OAK 0
PHI 3
Final
NYY 3
TOR 6
Final
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ARI 1
Final
BAL 7
BOS 2
Final
PIT 0
MIL 1
Final
TAM 3
CWS 1
Final
MIN 3
CLE 7
Final
ATL 2
NYM 4
Final
HOU 10
SEA 1
Final
MIA 2
WAS 3
Final
STL 8
CIN 4
Final
SDP 3
SFG 2
Final
ANA 8
TEX 5
1:05pm Today
NYY
TOR
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
WAS
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
BOS
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
ATL
NYM
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
CWS
 
2:10pm Today
MIN
CLE
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
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2:10pm Today
HOU
SEA
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
LOS
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
TEX
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
8:05pm Tonight
STL
CIN
 
Final
WISC 68
BGU 17
Final
MSU 73
EMICH 14
Final
VT 24
GT 27
Final
PITT 20
IOWA 24
Final
RICE 42
ODU 45
Final
UGA 66
TROY 0
Final
SYR 20
MD 34
Final
DUKE 47
TULA 13
Final
COL 21
HAW 12
Final
AKR 17
MARS 48
Final
WAKE 24
ARMY 21
Final
KU 24
CMICH 10
Final
ALA 42
UF 21
Final
FIU 3
LOU 34
Final
ECU 70
UNC 41
Final
NAVY 24
RUTG 31
Final
SMU 6
TEXAM 58
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MICH 10
UTAH 26
Final
BYU 41
UVA 33
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WYO 20
FATL 19
Final
MIZZ 27
IND 31
Final
PSU 48
UMASS 7
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MINN 24
SJST 7
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TXST 35
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WASH 45
GASTATE 14
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SMISS 21
APPST 20
Final
TOL 34
BST 23
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OHIO 36
IDAHO 24
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CIN 31
UMO 24
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MEM 36
MTST 17
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LSU 29
MSST 34
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ARKST 21
UTST 14
Final
SALABAMA 6
GASO 28
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VANDY 34
SCAR 48
Final
NEB 41
MIAMI 31
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NMST 35
NMU 38
Final
HOU 47
UNLV 14
Final
FSU 23
CLEM 17
Final
ARZ 49
CAL 45
Final
ORST 28
SDST 7
Final
WASU 31
OREG 38
Final
BSU 34
LALAF 9
1:30pm Today
CAR
CLB
 
5:00pm Tonight
WAS
BUF
 
6:30pm Tonight
CLB
STL
 
8:00pm Tonight
EDM
CAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAL
EDM
 
1:00pm Today
CLE
BAL
1:00pm Today
STL
DAL
1:00pm Today
DET
GBP
1:00pm Today
NYG
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
IND
1:00pm Today
NOS
MIN
1:00pm Today
NEP
OAK
1:00pm Today
BUF
SDC
1:00pm Today
CIN
TEN
1:00pm Today
PHI
WAS
4:05pm Today
ARI
SFX
4:25pm Today
SEA
DEN
4:25pm Today
MIA
KAN
8:30pm Tonight
CAR
PIT
Final
TOWSN 31
NCCU 20
 
Final
NCSU 42
PRES 0