Winning has been the trend lately for the Phoenix Coyotes, who will play host to the Florida Panthers tonight in the desert.
Phoenix has won eight of its last 10 games and recorded two goals in the third period of Wednesday's 4-2 victory at Minnesota. Scottie Upshall registered two goals and an assist, Ed Jovanovski and Lauri Korpikoski also scored and goaltender Jason LaBarbera, making his first start for Phoenix since November 10, turned aside 33 shots.
"It was a big win for our team, coming off a tough loss (Tuesday in Nashville) and one at home. It was big to get back on board," Upshall said after the Coyotes ended a brief two-game losing streak.
Korpikoski sealed the win with an empty-net goal -- his seventh marker of the season -- with less than a minute to go in regulation. Phoenix has beaten Minnesota five straight times and improved to 6-0-0 against teams from the Northwest Division.
The Coyotes are 5-3-3 at Jobing.com Arena.
Meanwhile, the Panthers will try to get back into the win column when they close out a four-game road trip tonight at Phoenix. They have lost two straight and five of their last six games, and sustained a 3-2 setback in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Michal Repik and David Booth scored for Florida, while netminder Tomas Vokoun allowed all three goals on 24 shots. Anze Kopitar's goal on a rebound with 2:43 to play in regulation sealed Florida's fate.
"We did a lot of things right, but that doesn't mean a lot in the standings," Panthers head coach Peter DeBoer said.
Los Angeles has won six in a row over Florida since a 5-2 Panthers victory on November 27, 2002. The Panthers have dropped two straight on the road and own a 5-9-0 ledger away from BankAtlantic Center.
In injury news for the Panthers, forwards Chris Higgins (foot) and Cory Stillman (back) are both listed as questionable for Saturday's game.
Tonight's matchups between Florida and Phoenix is the only one of the regular season. The last time these two teams met on March 18 of last season, Radim Vrbata scored the game-winning goal in the third round of the shootout to help the Coyotes erase a three-goal deficit and record a 4-3 victory.
Phoenix has won three of the last four meetings, while Florida has lost two straight in the Valley of the Sun.