NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 30th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (47-23-6) at Vancouver Canucks (45-26-4), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Lee Stempniak has been a force since the Phoenix Coyotes
acquired him at this year's trade deadline. Henrik Sedin, meanwhile, has been
pacing the Vancouver Canucks' offense all season long.
Stempniak will try to continue his torrid scoring for Phoenix tonight versus
Vancouver and Sedin, the NHL's leader in points, at GM Place.
The Coyotes were very active at the trade deadline in the beginning of March,
and those moves have helped to guide Phoenix to its first playoff berth since
2002. Though they had already clinched their spot earlier in the day on
Saturday, the Coyotes still went out and roughed up the Colorado Avalanche,
6-2, to surpass the 100-point mark for the first time since joining the NHL as
the Winnipeg Jets in 1979-80.
Phoenix, which has already set a single season-high with 47 wins this year,
has 100 points, the most the franchise has recorded since a 102-point season
in 1977-78 as a member of the World Hockey Association.
Three players acquired before the trade deadline factored into the scoring
versus Colorado. Stempniak scored twice in the third period to blow open a
one-goal game, while former Colorado skater Wojtek Wolski and Derek Morris,
acquired from Boston, also lit the lamp.
Taylor Pyatt had a goal and an assist in his 600th NHL game and Vernon Fiddler
capped the game with an empty-net goal. Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves for his
40th win of the season, improving Phoenix to 10-1-1 over its last 12 games.
"It's special for us as a team," said forward Shane Doan, who has been with
the club since its days in Winnipeg. "Obviously there was a lot of doubts
coming into this season by a lot of people. It's nice to answer those doubts."
The Coyotes will now focus their energy on catching the Sharks for first place
in the Pacific Division. Phoenix trails San Jose by four points with six games
It can thank Stempniak for that. The forward has 12 goals in 12 games since
being acquired from Toronto after posting just 14 goals in 62 games before the
trade. Saturday marked his fourth two-goal contest since the trade, with one
of those coming in a 4-3 shootout win versus Vancouver on March 10.
The Coyotes have won two of three versus the Canucks this season, with both
victories coming at home and in a shootout. They lost their lone trip to
Vancouver, 4-0, on Jan. 7.
Alexandre Burrows notched his second hat trick in as many games in that
victory, while Roberto Luongo posted a 31-save shutout. Luongo is 1-0-1 with a
0.96 goals-against average and .964 save percentage in two games versus the
Coyotes this season.
Bryzgalov has also faced the Canucks twice this year, splitting the games
while posting a 3.36 GAA and .889 save percentage.
Vancouver has won nine of its last 11 at home and is among the league leaders
in home wins with 27. The club has won three of its last four at home versus
Phoenix and is 13-2-0 with a tie in the last 16 home meetings in the
The Canucks have dropped four of their last six overall, including Saturday's
4-2 loss at San Jose. Vancouver, though, still owns a five-point edge over
second-place Colorado in the Northwest Division with seven games to go.
"I don't think we've clinched anything yet," Luongo told his team's Web site.
"Colorado's right there, and we're five points back of Chicago [for the second
seed]. There's still seven games left, you never know what could happen"
Luongo made 26 saves against the Sharks, while Burrows had a goal and an
assist, Daniel Sedin lit the lamp and Henrik Sedin assisted on both goals to
up his NHL-leading points total to 101. He is the first Vancouver skater to
reach 100 points since Markus Naslund had 104 in 2002-03.
Sedin has seven assists in his last four games as well as three goals and 18
helpers in his last 13 contests. He has a goal and five assists in three games
versus Phoenix this season.
03/30 10:57:42 ET