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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, March 21st (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (38-23-9) at Phoenix Coyotes (29-35-7), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The surging Vancouver Canucks will try to keep the pressure on in the race for the Northwest Division crown when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes for a battle at Jobing.com Arena.

Calgary once held a seemingly comfortable lead atop the Northwest, but the Canucks have closed the gap considerably with their hot play over the last month and a half. Vancouver comes into tonight just three points behind the idle Flames for the division lead as well as the third seed in the Western Conference.

The Canucks have won four in a row and eight of their last 10 games. The club has also put together a stellar 16-3-1 record since the start of February.

Vancouver posted all four of its victories on the current streak on home ice, but will kick off a six-game road trip tonight. The Canucks are 16-12-5 as the guest this year and have lost their last three road tests.

The Canucks notched their latest victory Thursday against visiting St. Louis. Henrik Sedin registered a goal and an assist, and Roberto Luongo stopped all 30 shots he faced to earn his 44th career shutout as Vancouver blanked the Blues, 3-0, at GM Place.

Alex Burrows and Mason Raymond also tallied for the Canucks, who added to their franchise-record with their 11th straight home victory. They set the club record with 10 wins in a row when they defeated Dallas 4-2 on Tuesday. The Canucks have not lost in Vancouver since an overtime defeat to Minnesota on January 31.

Luongo, who entered the game 11-2-1 with a 2.04 goals against average in his previous 14 starts, recorded his sixth whitewash of the season.

The Coyotes, meanwhile, are 14th out of 15 teams in the Western Conference and have managed just two wins in their last 11 games (2-7-2). However, Phoenix has earned at least a point in two straight after beating San Jose on Tuesday and losing to Anaheim in a shootout on Thursday.

Bobby Ryan scored the winner in the shootout as the Ducks edged the Coyotes, 3-2, at Jobing.com Arena.

Matthew Lombardi and Zbynek Michalek each had a goal for the Coyotes, who have dropped six of their last seven.

Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots in the loss for Phoenix, which despite being second from the bottom in the West is still only 12 points out of a playoff berth.

The Coyotes are closing out a four-game homestand tonight and are 1-1-1 on the residency so far. Phoenix is 18-14-3 as the host club this season.

Vancouver has taken two of three from the Coyotes this year and tonight's test completes the season series between the clubs. The Canucks have won eight of 12 overall against the Coyotes and have also taken two of three and four of the last six encounters in the desert.

03/21 10:55:01 ET


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