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Preview: Coyotes at Canucks

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GAME 61:

Coyotes (27-28-5) at Canucks (26-27-7) 

Arizona will play the finale of a three-game trip vs. western Canadian teams when it skates in Vancouver on Thursday night.

WHERE: Rogers Arena | WHEN: 8 p.m. (AZ time) | TV: FOX Sports Arizona | RADIO: AZ Sports 98.7 FM

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup.#OurPack | #ARIvsVAN


• Arizona will enter the game with 59 points, two behind Colorado, which holds the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference standings, with 22 games to play.

• The Coyotes have earned at least one point in seven of their past eight games vs. the Canucks (6-1-1) and in six of their past seven games at Vancouver (3-1-3). 

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal. Since New Year's Day, Kuemper is 10-3-3 with a .921 save percentage and a 2.40 goals-against average. His 10 wins rank sixth in the NHL during that span. 

Video: Tocchet Wants Coyotes To Play Loose During Push

Vinnie Hinostroza, who produced a goal and a shootout goal in the team's 3-2 win at Edmonton on Tuesday, leads the Coyotes with nine road goals.  

Jordan Oesterle, who signed a two-year contract extension on Wednesday, has produced at least one point in six of his past nine games and ranks tied for second among the team's defensemen with 20 points.

• The Coyotes on Wednesday assigned forward Michael Bunting back to the American Hockey League, signaling the possible return of Richard Panik to the lineup after a three-game absence because of illness. Panik rejoined the team in Vancouver on Wednesday, and took part in Thursday's morning skate on a line with center Jordan Weal and winger Alex Galchenyuk. Afterward, Head Coach Rick Tocchet said Panik would be a game-time decision.

• Josh Archibald is expected to skate in his 100th NHL game tonight. He's scored four of his 16 NHL goals this month, including one in the 3-2 win at Edmonton on Tuesday.

• The Coyotes have won 16 road games in a season for the first time since 2011-12, the season they last reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The franchise has won 17 road games or more in a season just 10 times since joining the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979.  


• Vancouver, which hasn't played since Saturday at San Jose, is 3-5-1 in February and, like the Coyotes, has earned 59 points in 60 games ... The Canucks are struggling on special teams; they rank 26th in the NHL in power-play efficiency at 15.8 percent and 17th in penalty-killing efficiency at 80.3 percent ... Elias Pettersson, who has yet to play vs. Arizona in his career, is leading the team and NHL rookies in goals (26), assists (28) and points (54) ... Brock Boesser has scored a goal in back-to-back games and ranks second on the team with 21 ... Bo Horvat, who has 20 goals, skates 21:00 per game, the 13th highest total among NHL forwards ... Ryan Spooner, whom Vancouver acquired in a trade recently, is expected to make his debut on a line with Pettersson and Boesser. Spooner has notched three goals and two assists in 41 games this season with the New York Rangers (16 games) and Edmonton (25 games) ... Jacob Markstrom has won 22 games, one short of his career-high, which he set last season. He's 5-3-1 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage vs. Arizona.

Video: Coyotes on Canucks: 'We're Neck And Neck With Them'


• "We're neck and neck with them. We're both fighting and clawing for points, and that's a team that we're going to have to beat out if we're going to make the playoffs. So, this is a big one tonight. (Elias) Pettersson is obviously a guy that can take over a game and he's a big-time player already in this league. I don't think we change anything though. I think we just play the same way we did two nights ago in Edmonton and hopefully have a stronger third (period). We don't want to give up any late ones. Hopefully, we can get a lead and play in their end a little bit." -- Jakob Chychrun

• "It's a playoff game for both teams. I think they're going to come out hard and we're going to have to match that. I'm sure everyone is excited for tonight's game. These are games you want to play in and this is when you want to play your best." -- Clayton Keller

• "We are scratching and clawing all year and we can see in the standings we are getting closer and closer, but we need an extra push here to get above." -- Niklas Hjalmarsson 

• "That's the way we try to play - defense first, try to swarm the puck, and do all the right things. But listen, we've just got to stay on top of our game. We can't outscore teams. They've got some high-end guys. (Elias) Pettersson is phenomenal. I think his hockey IQ is phenomenal. I'm a big hockey IQ guy. When I watch him think the game ... he thinks two steps ahead, he knows where the puck is two steps ahead ... We've got to keep an eye on him, for sure." -- Rick Tocchet

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