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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, March 8th (All times eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (39-22-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (27-36-3), 9 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The scorching Vancouver Canucks seek to maintain their grasp on first place in the Northwest Division when they kick off a three-game road trip tonight with an encounter with the lowly Phoenix Coyotes.

Vancouver has won three straight games and is an outstanding 9-1-1 since February 10. The hot streak has vaulted the Canucks to the top spot in the well-balanced Northwest, where the club currently leads Calgary by two points and owns a four-point advantage on third-place Minnesota.

The Canucks were impressive victors in their most recent test, as Jeff Cowan's second consecutive two-goal performance sparked Vancouver to a 5-1 triumph over Tampa Bay Tuesday at General Motors Place.

Kevin Bieksa and Daniel Sedin each added a goal and an assist, while recently- acquired Bryan Smolinski scored for the first time in a Canucks uniform in the win.

Roberto Luongo needed to make only 16 saves to record his 38th victory of the season. The All-Star goaltender tied a franchise record for wins in a single campaign, initially set by Kirk McLean in 1992-93.

Vancouver brings a 17-13-3 road record into this evening's tilt, but has lost its last two games as the visitor. The Canucks will also travel to San Jose and Anaheim during this swing.

Phoenix is headed in the opposite direction as Vancouver, having dropped three in a row and nine of its 11 contests. The Coyotes were on the short end yet again last night, as Anaheim's Joe DiPenta scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period to give the Ducks a 2-1 decision at the Honda Center.

Shane Doan had Phoenix's only goal and extended his scoring streak to six games. The Coyotes' captain has four goals and four assists during the run.

Phoenix will be starting a five-game homestand tonight. The team owns a 14-14-2 mark at Jobing.com Arena this season.

Vancouver has won three straight in this series, including the two previous meetings between the squads this season, and is 12-1-2 (2 ties) over its last 15 matchups with Phoenix. The Coyotes' lone win over that span was a 2-1 home triumph on November 26, 2005.

03/08 10:52:56 ET

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