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Canucks aim to leap Coyotes in Pacific standings

by Brian Hunter

COYOTES (16-8-4) at CANUCKS (15-10-5)


Last 10: Phoenix 4-4-2; Vancouver 4-3-3

Season series: This is the second of five games between the Phoenix Coyotes and Vancouver Canucks. Antoine Vermette had the shootout winner for Phoenix in a 3-2 win at Arena on Nov. 5.

Big story: The Canucks are aiming for a third consecutive victory. If they can pull it off in regulation, they'll move past the Coyotes into fourth place in the Pacific Division.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Entering the game Wednesday against the Calgary Flames, goalie Mike Smith trailed only the Canucks' Roberto Luongo with 24 starts. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett elected to give his No. 1 a rare breather on the second night of a back-to-back, but Thomas Greiss (14 saves) had a rough go in a 4-1 loss.

It wasn't all his fault; a late first-period goal by the Flames deflected in off Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko and another goal hit off Vermette's stick before beating Greiss.

"I didn't think we were too bad tonight, especially for a back-to-back," Schlemko said. "They got two, maybe three fluky ones, but if we come with the same effort on Friday, play a little bit harder, hopefully we'll get a few bounces."

Canucks: This is the start of a five-game homestand for Vancouver, which is looking to improve on a 5-5-3 record at Rogers Arena. The Canucks come off a 3-1 win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, but they lost a key player for the second game in a row.

First it was forward Alexandre Burrows suffering a broken jaw Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes, then defenseman Alexander Edler left in the first period with an apparent leg injury against Nashville. Veteran Andrew Alberts is expected to take Edler's spot in the lineup. The news Thursday didn't sound particularly promising.

"We got a little [update] this morning but it's the same, [Alexander] is still being evaluated," assistant coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He is out indefinitely, but still being evaluated by our guys today again."

Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has goals in consecutive games. Captain Shane Doan has one goal and two assists in the past two games. … Canucks forward Ryan Kesler has consecutive multigoal games. Defenseman Jason Garrison has back-to-back games with two assists.

Injury report: Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Vancouver forward Jordan Schroeder (ankle) is out.

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