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Coyotes aim for sixth-straight win vs. Canucks

by Brian Hunter
COYOTES (9-5-5) at CANUCKS (10-6-3)


Last 10:
Phoenix 6-2-2; Vancouver 6-3-1

Season series:
First of four meetings this season. Each team won its two home games on the 2009-10 schedule, with both of the Coyotes' victories coming via the shootout. Alexandre Burrows of the Canucks led all scorers with 4 goals, picking up a hat trick in a 4-0 win on Jan. 7 in which Roberto Luongo made 31 saves for the shutout.

Big story: The Coyotes will be shooting for their sixth win in a row and looking to sweep a three-game road trip through western Canada. As daunting an opponent as they make right now, the Canucks are simply happy they're not the Blackhawks, the team that knocked them out of each of the past two postseasons and engineered a 7-1 rout of Vancouver on Saturday night.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: In seemingly the blink of an eye, Phoenix went from no points to two points against Edmonton on Friday. The Coyotes had already cut a 3-0 deficit to a single goal on scores by Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata in the second period, but from there they were stymied until the final minute of the third. That's when Wojtek Wolski netted the tying goal with 34.4 seconds remaining and the Coyotes went on to a 4-3 victory when Eric Belanger scored in the fifth round of a shootout.

"We knew this is a young team," Belanger said of the Oilers. "They're still learning and struggling a little bit. We knew down 3-0, the game wasn't over."

Canucks: In the past it's been Cristobal Huet and Antti Niemi, on Saturday it was Cory Crawford as the Chicago goaltender winning his head-to-head battle with Luongo, who was pulled late in the second period after the Blackhawks opened up a four-goal lead. The Canucks finished with 28 shots but couldn't put one past Crawford until Mikael Samuelsson connected on a power play with 6:33 remaining. It was their third loss in a row and the first in regulation this season on home ice.

"We didn't play well," coach Alain Vigneault said. "Basically we embarrassed ourselves in front of our fans."

Who's hot: Ray Whitney (3-11-14), who leads the Coyotes in points, has 3 goals and 6 assists in the last four games. Vrbata (6-7-13) has 2 goals and 5 assists during a three-game points streak. Wolski has goals in consecutive games. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is 5-0-2 this month. … Samuelsson's tally Saturday gave him 2 goals and 3 assists in the Canucks' last five games.

Injury report:
Phoenix forward Kyle Turris is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, the same ailment that currently has captain Shane Doan on injured reserve, where he joins defenseman Kurt Sauer (concussion). … Vancouver defenseman Keith Ballard is day-to-day with flu-like symptoms, while fellow blueliner Ryan Parent is out indefinitely with a groin injury. Defenseman Sami Salo (Achilles) and forwards Alexandre Bolduc (high ankle sprain) and Guillaume Desbiens (hand) are on injured reserve.

Stat pack:
Korpikoski didn't register a point over his first eight games, but since then he has 5 goals and 5 assists in 11 games to move into a tie for fourth on the Coyotes in scoring.

"He plays the game fast and he plays it hard, and he's finding the net this year," coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a utility player for us that skates very well and this year he's finding some points."

Puck drop: Cory Schneider has played well this season when spelling Luongo, going 3-0-1 in four starts, but even he was touched up for three goals on 21 shots in relief Saturday and Vigneault left no doubt about what direction he would turn in against Phoenix.

"Roberto is going to get right back in there," he said following the game.

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