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Game 33: Canucks vs. Coyotes (12.22.14)

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks look for their second straight win tonight when they host the Arizona Coyotes in their final game before the holiday break.

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many, especially a hockey team that's been in a slump, but at least the Canucks are breathing a bit easier these days. Saturday night's 3-2 overtime win over the Flames wasn't pretty – and was downright scary at one point when Jannik Hansen collapsed on the bench and had to leave the game - but it was much-needed one as it allowed Vancouver to put an end to a five-game winless skid. The Canucks will try to make it back-to-back wins for the first time since early December when they battle the Coyotes – the second worst team in the Western Conference but a team that earned a convincing 5-0 win back on November 14 at Rogers Arena in the first and only meeting between the clubs to date this season. Hansen, meanwhile, missed practice yesterday but is expected to be able to play tonight.

The Coyotes come into Monday's tilt with just one win in their last seven outings (1-5-1) with that lone victory coming in overtime against the hapless Oilers six days ago. They were on the wrong end of a 4-2 decision on Saturday in Los Angeles in the start of their three-game road trip which wraps up tomorrow night in Edmonton. The Coyotes are one of the lowest scoring teams in the league but it's their defence and goaltending that has come under fire. Head coach Dave Tippett was recently quoted as saying that his number one netminder, Mike Smith, "hasn't been able to get it done." Smith, as a matter of fact, has been a spectator for the Coyotes for their last three in a row as Tippett has opted to run with backup Devan Dubnyk. Considering it was Dubnyk who pitched a 35-save shutout against the Canucks last month, don't be surprised if he gets his fourth straight start tonight. Ryan Miller is expected to get the call for the Canucks between the pipes.

Puck drop at 7 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.

Regular Season Record

19-11-2 11-17-4

2014.15 Season Series

0-1-0 1-0-0

All-time Series

89-63-26 69-84-25
 

Keys to the Game

Start the offence from the back end. For a team that hasn't seen much offence from their defence, having two goals scored by blue-liners last game – even if only one of them actually came off the stick of a defender – was a positive sign. Alex Edler, who leads Vancouver's D-men with nine points, would be a great candidate for a slump-busting night. He's gone seven games without a point.

Make hay on the power play. After bumping a six-game power play slump on Saturday, tonight seems like the perfect night for the Canucks to build on their work on the man-advantage. They go up against a Coyotes team that ranks near the bottom of the league on the PK having allowed 26 goals on 105 times shorthanded (75.2 percent).

Unleash Hanzal the Horrible. There's something about facing the Canucks that seems to bring out the best – and the nasty – in Martin Hanzal. He's been a Canuck killer in more ways than one in recent meetings and in the last game he did all his damage on the scoreboard recording a natural hat-trick.


By the Numbers

.769

Win percentage (10-3-0) for the Canucks in games where they score a power play goal (.474 win pct. when they don't).

3

Overtime goals scored by Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson this season. The NHL single-season record by a defenceman is four (Scott Niedermayer, 2001.02, New Jersey).

3

Times the Canucks have been shutout in their last four meetings against the Coyotes.

18

Third period goals scored by the Coyotes this season, fewest in the NHL.

120

Consecutive minutes without a goal for the Canucks in head-to-head games against the Coyotes dating back to March 4, 2014.

278

All-time wins for Don Maloney as Coyotes GM, tied for first place in the franchise with the late John Ferguson Sr. (first GM in Jets/Coyotes franchise history from 1979.80 to 1988.89).

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