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Coyotes outlast Canucks 4-3 in shootout

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE , Ariz. - The longest road trip in NHL history just wouldn't end - until the Phoenix Coyotes called in their closer to finally send the Vancouver Canucks home.

Defenseman Adrian Aucoin ended a wild six-round shootout with his third goal in as many tries this season as the Coyotes won their third straight game, beating Vancouver 4-3 in the finale of the Canucks' 14-game road trip stretched over 42 days due to the Winter Olympics.

Two of Aucoin's three shootout goals have decided games. This one, a wrist shot past Andrew Raycroft's glove to cap a string of six consecutive successful attempts, gave Phoenix the win when a backhand attempt by Vancouver's Mason Raymond went over the net, giving the Coyotes the extra point.

"Ladies and gentlemen, Mariano Rivera!" fellow defenseman Keith Yandle yelled as Aucoin fielded questions from the media.

"It's been a joke but now three in a row, things are starting to get serious," Aucoin said. "It's very exciting when you have a hand in winning the game, but we didn't play that well and they had the puck a lot more than we did. We feel fortunate to get the two points.

One line accounted for all the Coyotes' scoring as Lee Stempniak scored twice, ex-Canuck Taylor Pyatt added his 100th career goal and Vernon Fiddler notched two assists. The victory was Phoenix's 40th of the season, tying the most since the team moved from Winnipeg in 1996. The 2001-02 team that also won 40 games is the last Phoenix team to make the playoffs.

The Coyotes stretched their lead over Los Angeles in the race for fourth place to two points, though the Kings have a game in hand.

Mikael Samuelsson scored a goal in his fifth straight game for Vancouver, which ended its record road trip with an 8-5-1 record. The Canucks go home to host Ottawa on Saturday -- their first home game since Jan. 27.

"Obviously we're looking forward to going home. I think it's a five-game homestand, but I'm not even sure so that tells you how long it's been," Canucks forward Alex Burrows said. "It's a disappointing ending, but it will be nice to finally get in front of our home fans."

Samuelsson, who had his first NHL hat trick in a 6-4 win at Colorado on Tuesday, put Vancouver ahead 36 seconds into the second period, giving him nine goals in his last eight games. The line of Samuelsson and Daniel and Henrik Sedin, which collected 10 points against the Avalanche, tacked on five more Wednesday, with Henrik Sedin scoring his 27th goal.

The Coyotes went 3-1 on their post-Olympic homestand and now play 11 of their final 15 games on the road. That's fine with coach Dave Tippett, who said his team needs to "get away from the home cooking" as he was mostly disappointed with his team's effort.

"We're very fortunate to get any points out of the game, let alone two," he said. "As a group we didn't compete anywhere near where we should have. If I could have left the (Pyatt, Fiddler, Stempniak) line out there the whole game, I would have. They were three of the few forwards who competed out there."

Stempniak scored his second and third goals in three games since coming to the Coyotes in a deadline deal with Toronto, and gave the Coyotes the lead at 3-2 with a backhander past Raycroft just 35 seconds into the third period.

But Canucks defenseman Christian Ehrhoff tied the game just 59 seconds later, banging home a deflected pass from Pavol Demitra with Bryzgalov hopelessly out of position for Vancouver's 86th third-period goal of the season.

It stayed that way until the shootout, when seven of the 12 shooters were successful including six in a row. Stempniak, Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan beat Raycroft for the Coyotes, while Kyle Wellwood, Burrows and Ryan Kessler scored for Vancouver, who ended the trip with a five-point lead in the Northwest Division.

"I mentioned before the trip that we were a good road team," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "I knew this was going to be a challenge to be able to step up and get it done, and everything considered we did a pretty good job."

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