Streaking Ducks offer Coyotes true test of improvement

The Anaheim Ducks dealt Arizona two of the Coyotes’ most impactful losses during a dreadful first half of the season. That’s a trend the showing-some-improvement Coyotes want to halt Saturday night.

The only problem is, after meeting a succession of teams on losing streaks while they won four in a row and five of seven, the Coyotes now face a team that’s surging as the NHL playoff stretch drive nears.

The Coyotes were trying to stick with what they had going, but coach Rick Tocchet said they came out “sluggish” following a four-day layoff and it showed as they went 0-for-5 on the power play against Calgary.

“You’ve got to flush this one down and get ready for the weekend,” said Coyotes center Derek Stepan, who has two goals and six assists in his last eight games. “That’s the good thing about three (games) in four (days), you get to play right away.”

This will be the fourth game of a seven-game home stand for the Coyotes, who play the Vancouver Canucks at Gila River Arena on Sunday night. Arizona is 2-1 so far. Miller (8-4) is expected to match up with Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta, who had won four in a row until the Flames opened up a 5-1 lead in winning easily Thursday night.

Lillard can make some franchise history on two fronts in Phoenix on Saturday. He made two three-pointers against the Jazz and has made at least one three in 41 straight games, tied with Cliff Robinson for the longest streak in franchise. Lillard set the record, 42, last season.

He has made his last 54 free throws, the longest of his career and three short of Damon Stoudamire’s franchise record set in 2004-05.

Lillard is sixth in the league with a 26.0 scoring average and McCollum is 23rd at 21.9. They are the highest-scoring guard tandem in the league, and the only backcourt teammates averaging at least 21 points a game.

“They’re playing high-level and they just beat Utah, which was playing the best basketball of the season,” Suns guard Devin Booker said.

DeRozan cut it to one with a dunk but Terry answered with a pair of free throws in the final second. DeRozan’s long inbounds pass to C.J. Miles was knocked away at the buzzer to give the Bucks the win.jaguars_120-223x223

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