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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 10th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (16-8-5) at Colorado Avalanche (20-8-0), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to end their four-game road trip on a positive note Tuesday night as they visit the Colorado Avalanche and the Pepsi Center.

The Coyotes have gone 1-1-1 over the first three games of the swing, part of a span that has seen the club lose six of its past eight games. Phoenix was able to earn a point last time out on Friday, scoring a pair of third-period goals in a 3-2 overtime setback to the Vancouver Canucks.

David Moss and Antoine Vermette scored to force overtime and Mike Smith ended with 29 saves.

Though Phoenix was able to rally late, head coach Dave Tippett would like to see his club start earning some victories, beginning with tonight.

"There were some parts of our game I thought were all right," said Tippett following the loss to the Canucks. "We're trying to defend better, and we're giving up less shots and less chances against. But going into the trip, this game is about winning and getting points. We got only got three of six (points) and for where we are, we need a better percentage than that."

Tippett's club was minus captain Shane Doan on Friday due to the flu, while defenseman Derek Morris left the team to attend to a family matter. Neither player made the trip to Colorado as Doan was unable to practice on Monday and Morris remains away.

Doan leads Phoenix with 12 goals and is second with 23 points.

However, defenseman Zbynek Michalek could return for the first time in 10 games as he has been out since Nov. 14 due to a lower-body injury. He was able to practice on Tuesday and is likely a game-time decision.

Colorado is also coming off a loss in Vancouver as it dropped a 3-1 decision on Sunday. This time the Canucks were able to hold onto a lead as Roberto Luongo finished with 28 saves and came within eight seconds of a shutout.

Jamie McGinn scored late to get the Avalanche on the board and Jean-Sebastien Giguere lost for the first time in eight decisions this season, stopping 18- of-21 shots faced.

Colorado went 1-2-0 on its three-game road trip.

"I honestly felt we played a better game than them, and unfortunately we have nothing to show for the result," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "But, I mean, Luongo was good. Both goalies were good actually."

With Giguere having made back-to-back starts, Roy could go with Semyon Varlamov in net tonight. Varlamov is 3-4-1 with a 3.30 goals against average in his career versus the Coyotes, making 41 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory at Phoenix on Nov. 21.

Ryan O'Reilly scored the winner on a power play with 41.1 seconds left in overtime, giving the Avs their second straight win over the Coyotes.

Phoenix, though, has still won 10 of the previous 14 meetings overall and eight of its past 12 in Colorado.

Smith made 26 saves in the earlier loss, falling to 8-1-3 with a 1.85 GAA in 12 games (9) starts versus the Avs.

12/10 11:01:23 ET

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