Venue: MTS Centre
A recent defensive revival has the Phoenix Coyotes on the verge of matching their longest win streak this season.
When they return to their former home for the first time Thursday night, the Coyotes will try to earn a third straight win by adding to the Winnipeg Jets' recent struggles in their own end.
Phoenix's 5-0 loss to Vancouver on Friday was its most lopsided of the season, but the Coyotes (13-7-3) have bounced back by allowing one goal over the past two games.
They kept Chicago off the scoreboard until the final 42.9 seconds of a 4-1 road victory Tuesday, with Mike Smith stopping 24 shots.
"We got in their face early in the game and were able to get a couple of goals to help take the pressure off and silence the crowd," Smith said. "And then we just kept it up the whole game."
With Smith so far experiencing one of his best seasons - he finished November 8-2-1 with a 1.80 goals-against average - the Coyotes have allowed two goals or fewer in 15 contests.
Phoenix has also gotten plenty of help lately from Radim Vrbata. The winger has scored 11 of his team-best 12 goals over the past 14 games, and he had a goal and an assist in Tuesday's victory.
Ray Whitney added a goal and two assists.
"You try to play the same way every game and sometimes you have more luck than other times," said Vrbata, who had four goals and three assists during the Coyotes' other three-game winning streak - Oct. 27-Nov. 2. "Right now, it seems like the puck is going in for me, so hopefully it will continue like that."
While Vrbata has never scored in 16 career games against Winnipeg (9-11-4), the Coyotes haven't had much trouble getting the puck in the net in the series. They've 13-1-0 with a tie lifetime against the former Atlanta Thrashers, whom they've outscored 23-15 during a six-game win streak.
That includes a 4-1 home victory Oct. 15 in the Jets' first game against the franchise that left Winnipeg following the 1995-96 season. Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson spoiled the Jets' visit with a pair of goals while Smith stopped 18 shots.
Winnipeg could again have trouble defensively as it's given up a combined 10 goals in consecutive defeats. The Jets allowed three of those in the final 10:25 of a 6-4 loss to visiting Ottawa on Tuesday after Evander Kane scored twice in the third period to give his team a lead.
"To tell you I'm disappointed would be putting it mildly," coach Claude Noel said. "I didn't think we played very intelligently. We didn't play certainly with our minds. We had some energy but I thought it was a poor game in a lot of areas."
Coyotes captain Shane Doan is returning to the city where he made his NHL debut and is among three players from the original franchise still in the league along with Anaheim's Teemu Selanne and Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
Doan has recorded a point in each of the past six wins against the current Jets franchise, totaling three goals and five assists. Defenseman Keith Yandle also has six assists in four games in the series.
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