After playing the role of the comeback kids three times successfully on their recent four-game road trip, the Canucks got a taste of their own medicine upon their return home on Tuesday against Ottawa squandering three one-goal leads before finally managing to put away the pesky Sens with a 4-3 victory thanks to Daniel Sedin's 12th career overtime winner. Coming off a couple of days to enjoy that win, it's back to work tonight for Vancouver as they look to build on their recent run of four wins in five outings. The Canucks, who have been dealing with all sorts of injuries lately, might get some good news on that front as forwards Zack Kassian, Derek Dorsett and Radim Vrbata all returned to practice yesterday, the latter two the more likely to make their respective returns tonight. If Vrbata does dress against the Coyotes, it would mark his first regular season contest against his former team since joining the Canucks as a free agent. Vrbata did dress, and score, in a pre-season game versus Arizona at Rogers Arena earlier this year. Kevin Bieksa did not skate yesterday and, although Coach Desjardins did say he expected Bieksa to be available tonight, the recall of blue-liner Bobby Sanguinetti from Utica (AHL) on Thursday casts some doubt into Bieksa's status. Luca Sbisa remains out with a lower-body injury.
The Coyotes have been a streaky team this season and, unfortunately for them right now, they seem to be trending in the wrong direction. Arizona comes into this contest riding a three-game losing streak, which includes a 5-3 loss to the Flames last night. Prior to this three-game swoon, the Coyotes had won a season-high three games in a row. They're looking to avoid losing four in a row for the first time this season. Last year's season series between the clubs was dominated by the home team as the hosts walked away victorious in all five head-to-head games. The Coyotes edged the Canucks winning three of the five overall meetings. Both of the Canucks' wins in the season series last year came in overtime. Ryan Miller is expected to get the call between the pipes for the Canucks while the Coyotes may turn to backup Devan Dubnyk after regular starter Mike Smith started, and lost, last night in Calgary.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Keys to the Game
The power play wakes up. If ever there was an opportune time for Vancouver's power play to snap out of their recent funk, it would be tonight. The Coyotes have surrendered a power play goal in seven of their last nine outings, killing off just 70 percent of opposition man-advantages in the process (nine goals allowed on 30 times shorthanded).
Control those rebounds. Ryan Miller would be the first to tell you that he gave the Sens too many juicy rebounds that led to goals in Tuesday's win. That's a part of his game that has, for the most part, been very good this season and he'll want to clean that up tonight so the Coyotes don't get many chances at scoring garbage goals. Miller's teammates have to do a better job as well helping clear the front of the net.
Play keep away. Tonight's game features one of the top faceoff teams (Coyotes) against one of the worst (Canucks). If the Coyotes can control the puck by winning most of the draws, it could help them fend off fatigue. The Coyotes are 53.2 percent in the faceoff dot this season while the Canucks are just 47.6 percent in the circle.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks this season when they score four-or-more goals in a game.
Career win percentage for Ryan Miller against the Coyotes (7-0-0). He has a 1.27 GAA and a .958 save percentage all-time vs. Arizona.
Win needed by Coach Dave Tippett to reach 200 wins with the Coyotes franchise.
Straight games without a power play goal for the Canucks, their longest drought of the season.
Goals for Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette in last year's season series. He had goals in four of the five games.
Career NHL games played by Bobby Sanguinetti. The former first rounder's last game was April 27, 2013 with Carolina.