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Preview: Coyotes vs. Canucks

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

GAME 64:

Coyotes (30-28-5) vs. Canucks (27-28-9) 

Arizona will attempt to sweep a four-game season series, and stretch its overall winning streak to five games, when it skates vs. Vancouver on Thursday night in Glendale.

WHERE: Gila River Arena | WHEN: 7 p.m. (AZ time) | TV: FOX Sports Arizona | RADIO: ESPN 620 AM

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's projected lineup: pic.twitter.com/CEX4hZjjnq

ABOUT THE 'YOTES: 

• Arizona will enter the game with 65 points, three behind Colorado for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference standings, with 19 games to play.

• The Coyotes are 3-0-0 vs. Vancouver this season, and they outscored the Canucks, 11-6, in those three games. Should Arizona win, it would be the first time the franchise has swept a season series from Vancouver since entering the NHL in 1979-80 as the Winnipeg Jets.

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal looking to extend his winning streak to six games. He stopped 145 of 153 shots in consecutive victories over Toronto, Edmonton, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Florida (a .948 save percentage). Kuemper already has earned three victories over Vancouver this season and posted a 1.93 goals-against average in those games. 

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: ���I���m approaching this as a playoff, division game and that���s how we have to approach tonight,��� Rick Tocchet on tonight���s matchup against the @Canucks. pic.twitter.com/pBacefUA2K

Derek Stepan will enter the game riding a season-long four-game point streak. Stepan is coming off a monster game vs. Florida on Tuesday in which he played a season-high 24:25 and notched two goals, including his third short-handed goal of the season.

Josh Archibald also has notched at least one point in four straight games, a first in his NHL career. Archibald has produced nine goals on 68 shots this season for a 13.2 shooting percentage, which ranks second among active Coyotes behind Brad Richardson (13.6). 

Video: Goligoski Explains Keys to Win Streak, Game vs VAN

Conor Garland will skate in his first game since signing a two-year contract extension. Garland ranks tied for seventh among NHL rookies, and is tied for third on the team with 12 goals.

"Conor has come onto our team and made an impact through his work ethic and willingness to get to the net and score goals," General Manager John Chayka said. "He's a great success story for our organization as a later round draft pick and the development process he went through to get here. We're thrilled to get him signed long-term."

RELATED CONTENT: Coyotes Sign Garland

Video: Conor Garland talks season so far, contract extension

Jason Demers, who hasn't played since suffering a knee injury vs. Nashville on Nov. 15, has been practicing with the team and is nearing a return to the lineup. Head Coach Rick Tocchet recently said Demers is now considered "day-to-day."

ABOUT THE CANUCKS:

• Vancouver, which lost to Colorado 3-2 in a shootout on Wednesday, will enter the game with 63 points, two behind Arizona in the Western Conference standings ... The Canucks are 3-6-3 in their past 12 games ... Vancouver has notched nine overtime/shootout losses this season; only Colorado (12) and the New York Rangers have more (10) ... Rookie Elias Pettersson leads the team, and all NHL freshmen, in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56), but he has notched just two assists in his past four games ... Tanner Pearson skated 14:31 and took two shots on goal vs. Colorado in his debut with Vancouver after coming to the Canucks in a trade ... Jacob Markstrom made 43 saves on Wednesday, but his status for Thursday's game has not been made public. Thatcher Demko is Vancouver's backup goalie. He's played just one game this season, a win over Buffalo on Jan. 18, and two NHL games total. 

'YOTES QUOTES:

• "We're doing a really good job of defending. We've limited teams to under 10 chances per game over this month and that's a great number. That's what we have to embrace. That's who we are. If you don't play good defense, you can't win in this league." -- Rick Tocchet

• "We're playing with desperation and we're playing with confidence. That's the biggest thing. We know we can ultimately make the playoffs. So, I think if we can continue to play with this confidence, and keep playing as a group, we'll continue to earn points and continue this push. Having said that, we're focused solely on Vancouver tonight. If you look too far ahead, that can wear on a team." -- Jakob Chychrun

• "We've had success against Vancouver and that gives you confidence heading into the game ... They're coming into a back-to-back (situation), so it's going to be a real simple game plan for us tonight. We're going to put our work boots on and try to outwork them." - Alex Goligoski

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