GLENDALE, Ariz. – Management invited the siblings of the Vancouver players to join the team on their two-game, post-All-Star Break road trip to the Southwest – and watched the Canucks treat the Pacific Division like a helpless little brother.
Ryan Kesler scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season while Cody Hodgson added his first NHL goal in his second NHL game as the Canucks followed Tuesday's 4-1 win in Dallas with a 6-0 rout of the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night, looking exactly like what the standings currently say they are – the best team in the NHL.
The Canucks scored six times on 33 shots while Roberto Luongo notched his 54th career shutout as Vancouver delighted a pro-Vancouver crowd of 13,157 with a dominant performance from beginning to end.
"We're getting contributions for every line, we're getting scoring from our defense and our power play and the penalty killers are doing the job," said Kesler, who hit the 30-goal mark for the first time in his career in just 52 games. "When you come to the rink every day and work hard and want to get better, you have success. We just kept coming and coming and coming … and the final score shows it."
Alexandre Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond also scored for the Canucks, who have beaten Dallas and Phoenix on the road in back-to-back nights by a 10-1 margin and have now won four straight overall. Burrows scored on Vancouver's first shot of the game and it was all downhill from there for the Coyotes, who have lost four of five overall and five straight on home ice.
While Vancouver was winning in Dallas Tuesday, Phoenix blew a 3-0 second-period lead in San Jose in what turned into a 5-3 loss -- and the hangover was readily apparent. The Coyotes have been outscored 11-0 over their last 80 minutes and seven seconds on the ice.
"You would think that after getting our butt kicked the other night that we'd jump back in a little stronger," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "If you want to call it a hangover, that's your words, not mine. We've got some things to sort out though. You have to realize how hard it is to win; we don't have enough players playing hard enough to win."
The Canucks have lost just three times in regulation (23-3-6) since falling to Phoenix in Vancouver on Nov. 21 and are 4-0-3 in their last seven.
Phoenix put only 23 shots on Luongo and their closest chance of the night came when Derek Morris rang a shot off the post early in the third period.
"They outskated us, they dumped the puck in every time and went a got it, and on the wall they got it out," Morris said. "They out-battled us all over the ice and that's why that team is in first place – by doing the little things every single night."
Phoenix is now just 10-10-5 in 25 games at Jobing.com Arena. Phoenix lost only 10 home games in regulation all of last season, when the Coyotes set a franchise record with 29 home wins (29-10-3).
"Eleven goals against in four periods is embarrassing," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "Everyone in this room is embarrassed. Not saying it's our forwards, not saying it's our defense, not saying it's our goalies, it's a whole team. It's completely unacceptable."
The Canucks got out to an early lead as Scottie Upshall's pass missed Phoenix teammate Kyle Turris and found Vancouver's Daniel Sedin at the Canucks' blue line. Sedin came in and took a shot that Burrows deflected past Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov just 3:46 into the game.
That was all the offense Luongo would need, but the Canucks were far from done -- putting the game away with a dominant second period. While the Coyotes needed nine minutes to get off a shot, Hansen cleaned up a Lee Sweatt rebound at 1:38.
Hodgson, Vancouver's 20008 first-round pick who made his much-anticipated debut in Dallas, neatly stickhandled across the slot, fought off Coyotes Sami Lepisto and Andrew Ebbett and beat Bryzgalov inside the near post at 12:06 for a 3-0 lead.
"It's a pretty incredible feeling and tough to describe," Hodgson said. "That's something you worked you entire life for … and getting that first one is a huge relief. It's pretty special to play in the National Hockey League and to get a goal is just a huge honor."
Kesler sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Raymond in the third period as the Canucks blew the game wide open.
The Coyotes played without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who suffered an upper-body injury on a hit from behind by Dany Heatley in San Jose on Tuesday.
1 - 0 VAN
2 - 0 VAN