Coming off a tremendous momentum-building 4-1 win yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles, the last thing the Canucks want tonight would be to see that effort go to waste by following it up with a defeat in the desert. Even though on paper the Canucks should have no difficulties picking up two points against the Coyotes, it hasn't played out that way on ice as Vancouver has dropped two of three meetings so far against Arizona including falling 3-2 in a shootout the last time the teams just 17 days ago.
The Canucks will turn to Jacob Markstrom tonight between the pipes. Markstrom's first start was a forgettable one as he lasted less than eight minutes in a game against the Sharks back on March 3. He was perfect in a brief relief appearance three nights ago against Columbus – albeit making just two saves – and did have a couple of strong outings with Utica (AHL) since his last NHL start.
Puck drop at 5 pm PT – Live on CITY, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
You might think a team in a position that the Coyotes are in would be tempted to just coast the rest of the way knowing they won't be headed to the post-season but that isn't the case here. If anything, Dave Tippett's crew appear intent on playing that tight, grind-it-out style especially when they have an opportunity to be the spoiler. In their last eight outings, the Coyotes have held their opponents three-or-fewer goals in six of those contests (that stat would actually be two-or-fewer if you don't include the Penguins' empty-netter last night in the Coyotes' 3-1 loss). All six of those games happened to be against teams either currently occupying a playoff spot or are battling for one. The teams that have managed to score more than three goals against the Coyotes during this recent stretch are the Devils and the Avalanche – two teams that are, for all intents and purposes, out of the playoff picture entirely.
The Coyotes can credit the goaltending of Mike Smith for their recent stinginess. Even Smith would admit he's had a rough season but he seems to have turned things around since that win over the Canucks on March 5. Counting that game, he's allowed just 12 goals on 212 shots (.943 save percentage) in his last six starts. Smith could use a bit of goal support, though. A two-goal night is considered an offensive explosion these days for the desert dogs. They haven't even reached the two-goal mark in eight of their last 10 games scoring a combined 10 goals during that stretch. Four of those 10 goals have come off the stick of Tobias Reider, who opened the scoring in the last head-to-head game between these two teams. Vancouver will want to keep an eye on him tonight./p>
Keys to the Game
Bo knows goals. For the third time in his young NHL career, Bo Horvat brings a two-game goal streak into a game. He's never had a three-game goal streak. Seeing as how the Canucks are 11-1-1 when the rookie scores, they'd love for him to set that new career-high streak tonight.
It still takes 60 minutes. The Canucks have been burned enough times by the so-called lesser teams, including their last time in this building, to know they can't afford to not put in a full 60-minute effort.
Rattle Jake. The number of meaningful starts Jacob Markstrom has made for the Canucks has been few and far between. In fact, you can argue this is only the second one since joining Vancouver. The Coyotes know he might still be a bit shaken from his last start. They need to play some head games and try and get one past him early.
By the Numbers
Win for the Coyotes since February 10. That win came against the Canucks. They are 1-16-1 in their last 18 games.
Straight games the Canucks have recorded 40-or-more shots, the first time they've done that this season.
Points for Coyotes forward Sam Gagner, all assists, in the season series. No other player has more than two.
Game winless streak (0-2-2) for the Canucks at the Gila River Arena dating back to November 5, 2013.
Shots on goal for ex-Coyote Radim Vrbata in the season series, seven more than the next leader.
Career game tonight for Canucks forward Derek Dorsett. His first career game (Oct. 11, 2008 vs. PHX) also came in this building.