Right wing Radim Vrbata (undisclosed) and left Taylor Pyatt (undisclosed) both left Sunday’s game at Edmonton and are game-time decisions for tonight, according to Phoenix coach Dave Tippett. Vrbata leads Phoenix with 30 goals this season. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin (lower body) is out.
Mike Smith was the first goaltender off the ice for the Coyotes and should be the starter for the Phoenix. No surprise there.
Tonight’s Stars-Coyotes game is one of two big showdowns in the Pacific Division. The Sharks and Kings are playing in Los Angeles as well. The Stars (1st Pacific/3rd West) and Coyotes (2nd Pacific/7th West) are tied at 83 points. The Kings (3rd Pacific/9th West) and Sharks (4th Pacific/10th West) are tied at 82 points.
Tippett has been in this business a long time, and he’s never seen the standing as tight as what’s going on this season.
“The Pacific Division is as tight as it is going to get,” Tippett said. “We always talk about there are two ways to make the playoffs, win your division or make the top eight. I never envisioned them both being so close.”