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Canucks look for another road win at Phoenix

by Frank Mentesana
CANUCKS (42-16-9) at COYOTES (34-23-10)


Last 10: Vancouver 6-4-0; Phoenix 5-4-1.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings, with the road team claiming a regulation win in each of the previous two matchups. On Nov. 21 in Vancouver, Taylor Pyatt scored two goals -- including the game-winner -- to help the Coyotes beat his former team, 3-2.  The Canucks responded in a big way on Feb. 2 in Glendale, routing the 'Yotes 6-0 behind Roberto Luongo's 54th career shutout and two tallies from Ryan Kesler. Cody Hodgson also recorded his first NHL goal in what was just his second NHL game. 

Big Story: The Coyotes were seemingly on their way to a sixth straight loss on Saturday night, trailing the Red Wings 4-1 after two periods. However, Phoenix scored three times in the final period and Radim Vrbata posted the only shootout goal to lift the 'Yotes to a dramatic 5-4 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 17,382 at Arena. After that classic comeback win over the Western Conference's No. 2 seed, the Coyotes face another tough task on Monday against the top team in the League. The Canucks have begun a five-game road trip with two straight wins, which is the first time they've won back-to-back games since the first week of February. While that may sound surprising for a team with 93 points, they also haven't lost two straight since Jan. 20-22, and haven't dropped consecutive games in regulation since their loss to the Coyotes in late November.     

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver is coming off a couple of wins in California against potential first-round playoff opponents, a 3-1 victory over the Kings and a 3-0 blanking of the Ducks. In the latter of those two, Cory Schneider provided some rest for Luongo and posted his first NHL shutout in the process. Manny Malhotra also notched two goals -- including the 100th of his career -- as the checking line, comprised of Malhotra, Jannik Hansen, and Raffi Torres, has stepped up its play recently.

"We're just having fun out there; Hansen is playing some good hockey right now and Manny's obviously playing great right now," Torres told the team's web site. "We're just keeping it simple, getting pucks deep, nothing flashy, just going out and playing hard."

Coyotes: The critical two points the Coyotes picked up against the Wings now have them sitting in seventh place in a log-jammed Western Conference, and only four points behind Pacific Division leader San Jose. They will try to use the Detroit game as a spark, as their remaining 15 games are all versus Western Conference teams, and six of those 15 are against teams in their own division.

"We've got to make sure that we use this (win over Detroit) as a springboard, and not just a springboard to winning, a springboard to how we want to play to be successful," coach Dave Tippett said.

Who's Hot: Daniel Sedin has a goal in each of Vancouver's last two contests, giving him 81 points to continue to lead the league. Hansen and Malhotra each have three points in their last two games. For Hansen, his current surge has given him 24 points on the season, a new career-high. … Coyotes captain Shane Doan has four points (all from assists) in his last four games, and Kyle Turris has two goals and two assists in his last five. 

Injury Report: Mason Raymond missed the second half of Sunday’s game in Anaheim with a shoulder injury, but coach Alain Vigneault doesn't believe the injury is serious. Vancouver will definitely be without Chris Higgins (broken thumb), Kevin Bieksa (broken foot), Andrew Alberts (broken wrist), Alexander Edler (back), and Lee Sweatt (foot). … Phoenix remains without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who has been placed on IR with an eye injury. Derek Morris left Saturday's game with a lower-body injury, but he practiced with the club on Monday.

Stat Pack: Vancouver hasn't scored more than three goals in a game for seven consecutive games, while Phoenix broke a streak of that exact length by scoring four goals in regulation on Saturday. … The Canucks have allowed just one goal over their opponents' last 30 power-play opportunities. Phoenix has surrendered 11 goals in 26 chances on the penalty kill over its last six games.
Puck Drop: "It was like the scene in that Monty Python movie where the guy is screaming 'Bring out your dead, bring out your dead' and finally we decided to scream out that 'We're not dead yet!'" -- Shane Doan to after the Coyotes' comeback win over Detroit on Saturday

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