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Canucks pay first visit of the season to Phoenix

by John Kreiser /

CANUCKS (32-10-9) at COYOTES (25-18-9)

TV -- SNET-Pacific (HD); FS-Arizona Plus (HD)

Last 10 -- Vancouver 5-2-3; Phoenix 5-5-0

Season series -- The Canucks are paying their first visit of the season to the desert. The teams haven't met since Nov. 21, when the Coyotes went into Vancouver and left with a 3-2 victory. Phoenix has beat the Canucks in their last three visits to Arena, though two of the wins have come in shootouts.

Big story -- The Canucks come to Phoenix for the first time this season on top of the overall standings after dismantling the Stars in Dallas, winning 4-1. The Coyotes play their first home game since the All-Star break hoping to rebound after blowing a three-goal lead in a 5-3 loss at San Jose on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Canucks -- Just about everything is going right for the Canucks, who've won their last three games and regained the top spot in the standings by beating Dallas handily for the third time in 33 days. Vancouver scored twice on the power play, once at even strength and got a key shorthanded goal by Ryan Kesler in the victory against the Stars.

But coach Alain Vigneault is working hard to keep his team from getting too confident.

"We're on a game-to-game basis," Vigneault said. "We're happy with the win tonight against a real good opponent."

Coyotes -- The Coyotes looked like they'd be coming home off a nice road win when they took a 3-0 lead into the latter stages of the second period at San Jose on Tuesday night. Instead, they allowed a late goal in the second period and four more in the third, turning what looked like an easy win into a 5-3 loss.

"They got a couple of good goals and caught a couple of breaks," defenseman Keith Yandle said. "We couldn't close them out. It was a backbreaker, but the good thing about it is we play again tomorrow night."

Who's hot -- Vancouver's Daniel Sedin had a pair assists on Tuesday and now has 7 assists during a six-game points streak. … Yandle scored a goal on Tuesday to extend his points streak to 10 games, during which he has 15 points. He was the Second Star of the Month for January with 17 points in 14 games.

Injury report -- Vancouver forward Aaron Volpatti left Tuesday's game in the first period after injuring his shoulder in a collision. Defenseman Andrew Alberts (knee) didn't play Tuesday, and fellow blueliner Alex Edler had back surgery and is out indefinitely. … Phoenix is without defenseman Michal Rozsival (lower body) and David Schlemko (undisclosed), as well as center Vernon Fiddler (upper body).

Stat pack -- The Canucks scored twice on the power play Tuesday and lead the NHL with 49 PPGs, though they are only third in percentage. They are tops in the League on the road at 28.6 percent -- 30 goals in 105 tries. The Coyotes are 22nd on the penalty kill at 79.6 percent.

Puck drop -- As if the Canucks needed more help, Cody Hodgson, the 10th pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, made his long-awaited NHL debut on Tuesday. He played 9:52 on 15 shifts with two shots, three hits, a blocked shot and a 2-for-9 record on draws in the win at Dallas.

"I'm feeling great, healthy and strong," Hodgson said of his game. "It's a good feeling and it was a lot of fun out there, I really enjoyed my first game.

"It's a dream come true to play in the National Hockey League and to be able to get that opportunity, so I just took it all in, I enjoyed it and it was a good time."

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