The Canucks look for the two-game road trip sweep when they make their second and final trip of the season to Arizona to take on the Coyotes.
It's often said when you're facing an uphill climb to get into the playoffs that the hardest part isn't tracking down the team holding down the last spot, but trying to leapfrog all the other teams in between. The Coyotes, who sit tied with the Canucks in the standings but hold a game in hand, happen to be one of those in-between teams making tonight's game yet another one of those critical, must-win contests.
The Canucks may be getting the Coyotes at the perfect time. Back on January 12, Arizona sat second in the Pacific Division standings and held a four-point lead on fourth-place Vancouver. They've won just two out of 10 games since then and have fallen outside the playoff picture. Look for Ryan Miller to get the start in net for the Canucks going up against Louis Domingue for the Coyotes.
Puck drop at 6:30 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet ONE, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
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Keys to the Game
The skill guys do their thing. Considering the recent defensive woes of the Coyotes, the Canucks' sharpshooters have to be licking their chops tonight. Radim Vrbata, riding a nine-game goal drought, in particular would love to break out tonight.
Rattle Domingue. As good as Louis Domingue, January's NHL rookie of the month, has been this season, he's hit a bit of a wall lately. He's allowed five goals a game in three straight games, and has been pulled in two of his last three starts. Vancouver will want to get into his head with a quick goal or two.
History comes alive. All eyes will be on Shane Doan tonight and you can bet his teammates will be looking for him specifically. Doan is two points away from becoming sole franchise leader in points. Doan's 928 points has him currently in second place behind leader Dale Hawerchuk's 929.
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By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Canucks against Pacific Division teams (6-4-3).
Win percentage for the Coyotes against Pacific Division teams (11-4-2), best within the division.
Win needed by Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue to tie Robert Esche (10) for most by a rookie in team history.
Points each for Coyotes forwards Tobias Reider (1-2-3) and Antoine Vermette (0-3-3), tied for the season series lead.
Time this season the Canucks will play on zero days rest. They are 4-1-2 in those games so far (2 straight wins).
Rookies that have dressed for the Coyotes this season (6 forwards, 2 defencemen, 1 goalie).
- Arizona hasn't just been losing tight games during their recent swoon, they've been getting pummeled. They've been out-scored by a combined 34-18 in their past 10 outings, and have allowed five-plus goals in four straight games entering play tonight.
- One of the reasons for the Coyotes' early season success was their ability to win close games. Their .593 win percentage in one-goal games still ranks among the best in the league.
- The Coyotes are one of the league's top offensive teams (averaging 2.65 goals per game) despite sitting near the bottom of the league in shots on goal (averaging 27.4 shots per game). It's a testament to their sharpshooting ability led by rookie Anthony Duclair, who has a shooting percentage of 21.5 percent.
- If the Coyotes finish outside the playoff picture, they can point to their penalty kill as being perhaps their biggest downfall. Overall, it's a disappointing 76.8 percent. On home ice, it's even more brutal at a league-worst 71.71 percent. It has allowed two goals on six times shorthanded in the season series against the Canucks.
- Ex-Vancouver Giant Jordan Martinook isn't considered one of the Coyotes' super rookies but has been one of their hottest players lately. He has four points (2-2-4) in his last four outings.
- Speaking of super rookies, Max Domi has been in a bit of a funk lately as far as goal scoring is concerned. He's gone 10 games without a goal and has scored in just one of his last 26 games (he had a hat-trick in that game against Edmonton).