PHOENIX COYOTES (35-23-11, 81 pts)
at ANAHEIM DUCKS (37-26-5, 79 pts)
Puck drops: Sunday, 8:00 p.m. EDT
Line: Anaheim -140, Phoenix +120, Total: 5.5
Just three points separates the 4-through-10 seeds in the Western Conference playoff race, and two of those teams meet Sunday in Anaheim. Odds.
The Coyotes enter Sunday with 81 points, tied with four teams for the final four playoff spots out West. Phoenix looked like a lock to reach the playoffs a month ago, but suffered through an 0-4-1 stretch that saw the Coyotes drop like a weight through the standings. They are 2-0-1 since, but have no room for error as they travel to Anaheim. Shane Doan scored an empty-net goal on Thursday, extending his points streak to three games. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov shut out the Flames 3-0 on Thursday, for his 20th shutout since joining the Coyotes in the middle of the 2007-08 season. He is just one shy of tying Nikolai Khabibulin’s franchise record.
After losing just four times in their previous 18 games, the Ducks suffered through an 0-4-1 stretch from February 16-25 that had them reeling and just about out of the playoff race. However, the Ducks have rebounded since then, going 5-1 in their past six games to move within two points of the four-team quagmire for the final four playoff spots in the Western Conference. Corey Perry has three goals and two assists in his past two games for the Ducks, while goalie Dan Ellis has filled in admirably for the injured Jonas Hiller with five wins in his past six starts for Anaheim. Scores.
Phoenix will be without defenseman Ed Jovanovski (facial fractures), as well as forwards Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzal (lower body). Also, forward Rostislav Klesla missed Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. For Anaheim, Jonas Hiller remains out with vertigo symptoms, while forward Jason Blake has missed four straight games with a hand injury.
This is the final game of the regular-season series between these Pacific Division clubs. Anaheim took three of the previous five meetings this season. The Ducks have been dominant at home this season, as only the Flames and Canucks have earned more than Anaheim’s 44 points at the Honda Center. After going 8-1 in their previous nine road games, the Coyotes are just 0-3-1 in their last four. I’m taking the Ducks. The FoxSheets provide two more reasons to expect Anaheim to win:
ANAHEIM is 21-12 ATS (63.6%, +33.4 Units) revenging a loss versus opponent as a favorite this season. The average score was ANAHEIM 3.0, OPPONENT 2.7 – (Rating = 2*).
ANAHEIM is 13-5 ATS (72.2%, +18.9 Units) after scoring 3 goals or more in 2 straight games this season. The average score was ANAHEIM 3.2, OPPONENT 2.4 – (Rating = 2*). Las Vegas odds.
This four-star FoxSheets trend also sides with the Under:
Play Under – Home teams where the total is 5.5 (ANAHEIM) – poor defensive team – allowing 2.85+ goals/game on the season – 2nd half of the season, after scoring 5 goals or more in 2 straight games. (28-5 since 1996.) (84.8%, +23.5 units. Rating = 4*).