NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, December 29th
(All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (23-16-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (24-13-3), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Phoenix has missed out on the postseason in each of the
last six seasons, but the club's strong play at home this year could put that
unwanted streak to an end.
The Coyotes will try to set a club record tonight with a 10th straight win at
home as they take on the Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena.
Phoenix is hoping to make the postseason for the first time since 2001-02 and
currently stands fourth in the conference with 51 points. It trails first-
place San Jose by four points in the Pacific Division, but lost a point to the
Sharks thanks to a 3-2 shootout loss in San Jose last night.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 36 saves, but allowed a goal in the shootout's first
round. That was enough for San Jose netminder Evgeni Nabokov, who halted all
three skaters he faced in the deciding frame.
"We had a couple good shots and Nabokov played really well. Both goaltenders
were phenomenal tonight. You have to tip your hat to both of them, they were
unbelievable," captain Shane Doan said.
Doan and Petr Prucha both scored for the Coyotes, who had a three-game overall
winning streak snapped.
Phoenix now returns home, where it hasn't lost since November 16. The Coyotes'
victory over the Kings on Saturday matched the club's record home winning
streak of nine, first set from December 27, 1992-January 23, 1993 when the
franchise was still located in Winnipeg.
The Coyotes, who are 15-5-0 at home this year and begin a three-game
homestand, haven't allowed more than two goals in any of their last nine wins
as the host. Bryzgalov is 15-3-0 with a 1.60 goals-against average in 18 home
starts this year, but it is Jason LaBarbera who is expected to start tonight
according to Phoenix's official Web site.
LaBarbera, who made eight starts with the Canucks last year, is 2-3-0 with a
2.33 GAA in six games (5 starts) this year and would make his first start
since a victory in Columbus on December 17 in which he made 38 saves. He has
lost both of his home starts this season.
LaBarbera's old club, the Canucks, have won three straight and seven of their
last nine games. After a 6-2-0 homestand, they opened a four-game road trip
with Sunday's 5-1 win in Calgary.
Mason Raymond netted the game's last three goals for his first career hat
trick. The third-year winger has already set career highs this year in goals
(17) and points (29) in 39 games.
"It's exciting, it's something I'll always remember," Raymond said. "It's good
to get those two points, and that's big for us."
Henrik Sedin and Kyle Wellwood also scored for the Canucks, while Roberto
Luongo made 29 saves in the victory.
Vancouver is four points back of first-place Colorado in the Northwest
Division and currently occupies the eighth spot in the Western Conference
These two clubs have split their last eight meetings overall and the last four
12/29 10:56:06 ET