– If there was one thing the Coyotes could count on during this up-and-down season, it was their ability to ride a lead home in the third period. Now after two collapses in their last three games, nothing is certain anymore.
The Coyotes had gained a point in all 21 games in which they had taken a lead to the third period (19-0-2) before blowing a 2-1 lead at home to last-place Edmonton on Jan. 25 in what many players called the low point of the season. But one week later in San Jose, the Coyotes appeared to have a sixth straight road win wrapped up with a 3-0 lead late in the second period, only to see the Sharks roar back with five unanswered goals and steal a 5-3 win Phoenix needed to get the post-All-Star playoff spring off on the right foot.
"It was disappointing when you're up like that. We just seemed to fall apart in third period," Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski
said. "We lost the territory battles and they found a way to expose it."
Last week, the Coyotes regrouped from the loss to the Oilers to post a big road win in Colorado the next night. Again in a back-to-back situation, Phoenix is hoping for the same results -- but this time it hosts the 32-10-9 Vancouver Canucks
, who lead the NHL with 72 points and are coming off a 4-1 win over the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars
"The best thing is we get a chance to get right back on the horse here tonight against the best team in the League right now," Jovanovski said. "You have to come out, forget what happened and just play. We've done that before. It's about a chance to capture two points."
The Coyotes have some confidence against this potent team. They posted a 3-2 win in Vancouver back in November and they've won three straight over the Canucks in Arizona, going 6-3-1 in the last 10 home battles with Vancouver. But the Canucks have won three straight, they have a six-game points streak (3-0-3) and they lead the NHL with 49 power-play goals -- with 21 of them coming from Daniel Sedin
(11) and Ryan Kessler (10).
"They're a team that's rolling right now," Jovanovski said. "Their key is the Sedin (twins). You have to limit their time and space. Every time tries to make it a tough game on them and we're no different."
The Coyotes remain in sixth place in the Western Conference, but they don't have much breathing room. Chicago and San Jose are one point behind, Minnesota is two back and Colorado, Los Angeles and Calgary in a pack of team just three points off the pace. Phoenix and Calgary have played the most games among that group at 52.
Phoenix continues to rely on the red-hot Keith Yandle
for offense. The Coyotes' lone representative to the All-Star Game scored his ninth goal of the season Tuesday and now has 15 points (3-12-15) during a career-long, 10-game points streak.