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Wednesday, March 14th (All times Eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (34-25-11) at Vancouver Canucks (42-19-8), 10 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Canucks and Coyotes would both be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but neither team has looked much like a postseason club in recent weeks.

The struggling teams will try to get back on the right track when they meet tonight at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.

The Canucks are holding a comfortable 14-point lead atop the Northwestern Division, but the defending Western Conference champions have posted just two wins over their last seven games (2-3-2). The lull has also dropped Vancouver, which is the second seed in the West, six points behind St. Louis for the top spot in the conference and overall NHL standings.

Phoenix, meanwhile, posted an 11-0-1 record in February, but is just 1-4-2 so far in March. The Coyotes are the seventh seed in the West, but they are just one point in front of a group of four teams battling for the eighth seed. Phoenix is also four points behind Dallas for the Pacific Division lead.

The Canucks last played on Saturday against visiting Montreal and were handed a 4-1 setback by the Habs. The loss dropped Vancouver to 2-3 on a seven-game homestand and lowered the Canucks' home record this season to 20-9-4.

Ryan Kesler netted the lone goal for the Canucks, while Roberto Luongo was touched for all four goals on 35 shots in defeat.

Canucks captain Henrik Sedin was held without a point for an eighth straight game on Saturday, leaving him one game shy of the longest point drought of his career. Sedin's linemate and twin brother, Daniel, has just one assist over that same span.

Henrik Sedin believes there is still time for the brothers, and the team as a whole, to get back on the same page before the playoffs.

"We've got 13 more games here and then the important games start," Henrik said after Saturday's loss. "We've got to re-group during these two days and be fresh for the next practice."

Luongo has also struggled between the pipes, allowing 11 goals on 70 shots over his last three games. Luongo is expected to get the call over backup Corey Schneider tonight.

Meanwhile, after four straight regulation losses to begin March, the Coyotes were at least been able to post a win and two shootout defeats during their recent three-game homestand.

Phoenix began the residency last Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild before ending a five-game slide with a 3-0 win over San Jose on Saturday.

The Coyotes were denied consecutive wins, however, when they dropped Monday's 5-4 shootout decision against Nashville, but Phoenix did rally from two goals down in the third period to force overtime. Oliver Ekman-Larsson cut the deficit to 4-3 with 12:49 left in the third period and Raffi Torres netted the equalizer with just under five minutes remaining in regulation.

Ekman-Larsson, Torres and Daymond Langkow each posted a goal and an assist for Phoenix and Keith Yandle supplied the other goal.

Mike Smith made 31 saves on 35 shots through overtime, but allowed Andrei Kostitsyn to score the only goal of the shootout phase.

"We chased the game all night and that's tough," said Phoenix captain Shane Doan.

Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal has sat out the last two games with an upper- body injury and is questionable for tonight. The big centerman is fifth on the team this season with 31 points (8 goals, 23 assists).

Phoenix is kicking off a four-game road trip tonight and will also visit Calgary, Edmonton and Dallas during the swing. The Coyotes have a decent 16-13-5 road record this season.

Tonight's tilt is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the Coyotes and Canucks this season. Vancouver posted a 5-0 rout in Phoenix to begin the season series back on Nov. 25, but the clubs split a pair of shootout decisions in February.

The Canucks have won three of the last five encounters in British Columbia.

03/14 10:44:36 ET


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