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After rough trip, Coyotes set to host Canucks

by Matthew Mankiewich

CANUCKS (14-9-6) at COYOTES (13-13-4)


Last 10: Vancouver 4-4-2, Phoenix 4-5-1

Season Series: This is the second of three meetings. The Coyotes earned a 4-2 victory at Vancouver on Feb. 26.

Big Story: Home may never look better to anyone the way it does to the Coyotes right now. Back in Phoenix for two games, they leave an 0-3-1 trip behind them, but they've won six of their last eight at home.

Team Scope:

Canucks: Some nights, a team has no choice but to ride a hot goalie. About the only consistent thing the Canucks had going on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues was Cory Schneider, who made 32 saves in Vancouver’s 3-2 victory. Fifteen of those saves came in the opening period, when the Canucks mustered only three shots on goal.

The win ended a personal three-game slide.

For coach Alain Vigneault, it simply reinforced what he has been saying all along, that this season would be a difficult one.

“We’ve known since Day One that this was going to be a huge challenge. Maybe other people did not know, or did not want to believe it, or did not see it,” Vigneault told the Vancouver Sun, “but I think within our staff and players, we knew this was going to be a real big challenge. Other than not thinking that Anaheim was going to come out the way they are, everything else is what I and we expected, and we’re in a real fun battle right now.”

Coyotes: The last time the Coyotes had scored, it was against the same Kings they faced Wednesday. Jonathan Bernier extended the hurt a little bit longer, but the Coyotes' elevated intensity finally paid off when Shane Doan got the 'Yotes on the board 11:28 into the third period and got them back into the game at the same time. It was three straight shutouts, 245:32 without a tally and a whole lot of anxiety that Doan relieved like his eponymous pills. And when Jarrett Stoll scored on the power play a couple of minutes later, Doan got them back within one in the game's final minute. But it was too little, too late to prevent the 3-2 loss.

"When you haven't scored in three games, you're going to get pretty desperate," said Doan. "We were desperate enough, but we didn't find a way to do it. I think if you play that game nine more times, we probably win it eight times.

"That's why they're the Stanley Cup champions. They found a way to win that game."

Who's hot: Roberto Luongo is the hotter goalie versus the Coyotes at least, winning two straight with a shutout and a 1.47 goals-against average over the stretch. Daniel Sedin has a goal and three assists in three games, and 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in his last 12 games against Phoenix. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has allowed seven goals in his past two games, but has allowed that many in three straight wins against the Canucks.

Injury report: Canucks forward Zack Kassian (back) logged only 2:48 of ice time in the first period Tuesday and did not return after getting in a fight with the Blues' Chris Stewart. Forward David Booth is out indefinitely with an ankle sprain, possibly for the season. Ryan Kesler (broken foot) is still weeks away. … Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) could be back by Monday, while David Moss (lower body) sat out Tuesday's game and remains day-to-day.

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