NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 8th
(All times eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (42-16-9) at Phoenix Coyotes (34-23-10), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Two days after halting their worst losing streak of the
season with a victory over one of the Western Conference's best, the Phoenix
Coyotes hope to make it two victories in a row as they host the NHL-leading
Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes seized brief control of the Pacific Division with an eight-game
winning streak from Feb. 5-22, but then dropped five straight (0-4-1) prior to
Saturday's 5-4 shootout victory over the Central Division-leading Red Wings.
Phoenix now finds itself four points back of first-place San Jose in the
division and seventh overall in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes seemed headed to a sixth straight setback versus the Red Wings,
but got third-period goals from Mikkel Boedker, Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzal,
who tied the game with 1:57 left in the third to force overtime. Radim Vrbata
then had the lone shootout tally to give the Coyotes a victory in the opener
of a three-game homestand.
"It's so tight [in the Western Conference] that you can't afford losing
points," said Vrbata. "So now we have a homestand where we need to really get
Ilya Bryzgalov settled down after a slow start to make 22 saves, including all
eight faced in the third period and another four in overtime.
Phoenix did lose defenseman Derek Morris to a lower-body injury, but he was
able to practice on Monday and is day-to-day.
The Coyotes have won six of their last seven in the desert since a home loss
to the Canucks on Feb. 2. Vancouver blew out Phoenix, 6-0, in that one,
getting a 23-save shutout from Roberto Luongo and a pair of goals by Ryan
Bryzgalov did not finish the game and fell to 7-7-1 with a 2.39 goals-against
average in his career versus Vancouver.
The Canucks snapped a three-game slide in Phoenix with the win and avenged a
3-2 home loss at the hands of the Coyotes on Nov. 21.
Luongo is 9-8-1 with a 2.15 GAA versus Phoenix and should start tonight after
getting the day off Sunday. Backup Cory Schneider shined in his place, making
26 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Ducks for the first shutout of his career.
"I was most happy that we got the win," Schneider said. "We didn't give them a
whole lot in the third. It's a good feeling to finally get this out of the
way, but the team is more important. I've never really been a shutout guy, I
haven't had a lot of them in my career, but to have one at this level is a
good milestone and something to build off of."
Manny Malhotra scored twice, including the 100th of his career, and Daniel
Sedin added a power-play tally as Vancouver won consecutive contests for the
first time since a six-game win streak from Jan. 24-Feb. 7.
Despite recent inconsistency, the Canucks still lead the NHL with 93 points,
seven more than the Red Wings and Flyers.
Vancouver has won the first two contests of a five-game swing and hope to get
forward Chris Higgins into the lineup during the trip. Higgins has yet to make
his Canucks debut due to a fractured thumb suffered prior to his trade from
Florida to Vancouver prior to last week's deadline.
Forward Mason Raymond, meanwhile, is questionable for this game after
suffering a shoulder injury against the Ducks.
03/08 10:55:38 ET