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Coyotes edge Canucks for fifth straight win

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes don't mind working overtime if the results continue like this.

The Coyotes won in a shootout for the third time in as many games when Antoine Vermette's shot trickled off the pad of goalie Roberto Luongo and just across the goal line in the sixth round Tuesday night, giving Phoenix its fifth straight win in a 3-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at Arena.

Mikkel Boedker had the shootout winner against Nashville on Oct. 31 and Vermette had the winner against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday before getting just enough of another difference-maker around Luongo on Tuesday.

The Canucks had one last chance to extend the shootout, but Henrik Sedin lost control of the puck and never got off a shot on Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.

"It's a game of inches, and that puck just got over the goal line," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "Last year, shootouts were one of the places we came up short on some points (4-6 overall), so it's good to see us get some this year."

The Coyotes are now 7-0-1 at home and join the Sharks and Anaheim Ducks as the only three teams yet to suffer a regulation loss at home this season. The Coyotes, one point behind the Ducks in the race for the most points in the NHL, meet up with them in Anaheim on Wednesday.

Smith, now 8-0-2 in his past 10 decisions, made 31 saves through overtime and stopped Mike Santorelli, Chris Higgins, Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin in the shootout. Alexandre Burrows was the only Canuck to convert.

"It was kind of a chess match and the chances weren't the highest," said Smith, who had to make 48 saves in San Jose on Saturday and has stopped 120 of 125 in his past three starts. "I think we learned a lot from the last game and we got another big two points."

Luongo had 30 saves before stopping Mikkel Boedker, Mike Ribeiro, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Shane Doan in the shootout. Radim Vrbata matched Burrow's goal in the second round before his showdown with Vermette.

"I knew I got a piece of it with my pad," Luongo said. "I didn't know which way the puck was spinning, but when I turned around I saw it barely across the line. It's disappointing to lose, but a great game for both teams."

Dan Hamhuis and Kesler scored second-period goals for Vancouver. Vrbata scored in the first period before Doan scored in the second for the Coyotes. Phoenix played most of the game with five defensemen after Derek Morris left the game with a lower-body injury midway through the first period.

"We really missed Mo and it's a burden for any team, but we really have great defensive depth right now," Doan said. "We don't have one guy back there we're trying to hide and there's no drop-off. Any one of our ‘D' could play the most minutes in a game. It's a great luxury."

The Coyotes grabbed a lead 46 seconds into the game, when a hard forecheck by Doan behind the net forced Vancouver defenseman Christopher Tanev to send the puck around the boards. Martin Hanzal cut off the clearing attempt at the hash marks and put a puck toward the net that Vrbata deflected up and over Luongo at 1:15.

It was the sixth goal of the season for Vrbata, and all six have come in Phoenix's eight home games.

"It's a little weird because last year I scored a lot of my goals [11 of 12] on the road," Vrbata said. "I will take goals wherever they come, and it's important to be strong and winning and getting points at home. So far that's working out."

The Canucks turned up the heat quickly in the second period and needed 25 seconds to score. Santorelli won a faceoff back to Hamhuis at the point. Hamhuis waited for traffic to form in the slot and let go a shot Smith never saw until it was past his glove.

Then, with Vermette in the penalty box for roughing, Vancouver's power play cashed in.

Henrik Sedin put a saucer pass over Hanzal's stick and Kesler stepped into it for a one-timer that banked in off the crossbar at 4:15. Kesler's ninth goal of the season extended Henrik Sedin's career-long points streak to 12 games (3-11-14). Daniel Sedin got the second assist to run his streak to seven (5-4-9).

But Doan answered with a one-timer of his own. The Coyotes hemmed the Vancouver checking line in with own end with good pressure and Keith Yandle faked a shot from the high point before teeing up Doan for a low one-timer that banked in off the far post at 17:39.

Doan's fifth goal of the season was his third in the past four games and set up the tight finish.

"I tried to stretch my bench and I shouldn't have. You put that on me," Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "I shouldn't have my fourth line out there then."

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