MOLINE, Ill. — After being away on the longest road trip of the season, the Quad-City Mallards are back home tonight for a 3-game home stand.

Tonight's game (7:05 p.m.) is against Kalamazoo, and the last two games of the weekend series are against the Elmira Jackals.

The Mallards enter the weekend with a tie for third place in the ECHL Central Division with Tulsa. Both the Mallards and Oilers have 52 points.

Phil Axtell will coach the Mallards tonight without an interim tag. The Mallards announced Thursday that the franchise removed the interim tag from Axtell, and he will coach the team for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. The Mallards have gone 6-2-0 in eight games since Phil Axtell took over as head coach on January 20.

Josh MacDonald will make his home debut this evening after being traded to the Mallards on Monday for defenseman Mike Monfredo and future considerations. MacDonald leads the Mallards with 37 points.

"He's going to solidify our winger," Axtell said. "He comes in on paper as our leading point scorer without playing a game. Hopefully that will provide some depth to the winger position. Not that the other guys weren't doing it ... you just never know which team is going to come knocking asking for another player."

In the last six games, the Mallards have outscored their opponent 18-3 in the first period.

"I think it's important for any team to get a good start," Axtell said. "If you don't get a good start, that means you're in a hole and you have to fight back."