Division leaders clash as Coyotes host Canucks
Monday, 02.27.2012 / 12:50 PMCANUCKS (40-16-7) at COYOTES (32-21-9)
TV: SNET-P (HD), FS-A (HD)
Vancouver 7-1-2; Phoenix 9-0-1
This is the third of four meetings, with the series wrapping up on March 14 in Vancouver. The Canucks have won both prior meetings. The first was a 5-0 dismantling in the desert on Nov. 25, but it took a shootout back on Feb. 13 for Vancouver to prevail, 2-1, at Rogers Arena.
The NHL's hottest team welcomes the NHL's best team on Tuesday. Despite a 3-2 overtime loss to Dallas on Sunday, Vancouver still sits atop the League standings with 87 points as it wraps up a six-game road swing. Phoenix has vaulted into the Pacific Division lead on the strength of its current five-game winning streak.
After Nashville snapped Vancouver's 13-game points streak last Tuesday, the Canucks bounced back in a big way by snapping an even bigger streak: Detroit’s NHL-record, 23-game home winning streak. They followed that with a 2-1 win in New Jersey on Friday, and then traveled to Dallas for the penultimate game of the trip on Sunday. Vancouver jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 13 minutes on goals from Ryan Kesler
and Mason Raymond
, but Dallas would not be denied. With the game 2-1 in the final minute, Mike Ribeiro scored on a tip-in to send the game to overtime. Vancouver didn't manage a shot in the extra period, and Loui Eriksson's wrister at 3:52 gave Dallas an important two points.
"They're a desperate team," said goalie Roberto Luongo
, who made 25 saves. "They're playing for their lives. They're in playoff mode right now. Got to give them credit, they battled to the end and came away with a win."
If there's one thing Phoenix knows well, it's overtime. Prior to its most recent game against Edmonton, Phoenix played three straight that went beyond regulation, winning each one of them off the strength of Mike Smith
's goaltending and some timely overtime and shootout conversions. Indeed, the Coyotes had five straight decided by one goal -- starting with the shootout loss to Vancouver -- heading into Edmonton on Saturday. The Coyotes made no mistake against the Oilers, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead and eventually winning 3-1. Mike Smith
made 21 saves for his 10th straight win. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
, Ray Whitney
and Shane Doan
all scored for the 'Yotes.
"We're happy with what we have done," Whitney said. "We've played well at times and competed hard most of the time. But we have to be careful not to get too excited or overconfident because of how things have gone."
The veteran Whitney has a five-game points streak, with 2 goals and 4 assists over that span.
For Vancouver, Keith Ballard
(concussion), Andrew Ebbett
(collarbone surgery) and Aaron Volpatti
(shoulder surgery) are all out indefinitely. … In Phoenix, Gilbert Brule
has missed two games with a head injury and is questionable for Tuesday's game. Kyle Chipchura
(wrist), Rotislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (strained groin/personal) and David Schlemko
(foot surgery) are all on injured reserve.
Smith has been immense over his 10-game winning streak, with two shutouts and five games in which he has conceded just one goal, good for a save percentage of .947.
With the loss to Dallas, Vancouver completed a grueling stretch of six games in nine days, going an impressive 4-1-1. Coach Alain Vigneault was happy with his team's fortitude, but would have preferred to end on a victory.
"Logically, six games in 8 1/2 days in six different cities, that's a lot of hockey," Vigneault said. "But that being said, we had the game where we wanted it, going into the third with a one-goal lead. Unfortunately, we lost it."