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Phoenix Coyotes vs. Vancouver Canucks

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GAME: Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-1) at Vancouver Canucks (5-1-1).

TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EDT.

The Vancouver Canucks are thriving thanks to one of the NHL's top power-play units.

The Canucks hope to continue their success with the man advantage as they host the Phoenix Coyotes.

Vancouver has scored 16 goals during a three-game winning streak over Minnesota, Dallas and Chicago, respectively. The Canucks have 10 power-play goals in seven games this season.

For the second straight game, Vancouver converted three of 10 chances with the man advantage en route to a 6-2 win over the struggling Blackhawks on Tuesday.

In addition to another strong game on the power play, the Canucks also got the best effort of the young season from their top line of Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund. Split up the previous two games because of poor play, the trio was dominant at times, combining for two goals and five assists.

"We were maybe passing a little too much and not finishing the plays, but we're starting to move around and get the passes through and create stuff," said Naslund, who leads the team with six goals and nine points.

"When you're labeled as an offensive team and you don't do it, it's a little frustrating, but you just have to stay with it," added Morrison, who scored his first goal of the season and added two assists for his first points in six games. "It's one game, but it's a step in the right direction."

Phoenix has won two straight to up its record to 3-4-1 under first-year coach Wayne Gretzky.

Derrek Morris scored on the power play one minute into overtime and Oleg Saprykin had two goals in the Coyotes' 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.

"We got a little bit lucky with the shot in overtime but it was hard-fought victory for us," Gretzky said.

Saprykin scored two backhanded goals against Edmonton goaltender Jussi Markannen in a 2:09 span of the first period.

"I thought the first 30 minutes we played really solid hockey," Gretzky said.

STANDINGS: Coyotes - 7 points, 3rd place (tied), Pacific Division. Canucks - 11 points, 1st place, Northwest Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Coyotes - Saprykin, 4 goals; Paul Mara and Mike Leclerc, 4 assists; Saprykin and Mara, 6 points; Tyson Nash, 29 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 6 goals and 9 points; Ed Jovanovski, 6 assists; Bertuzzi, 13 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 18): Coyotes - Power play: 21.3 percent (10 for 47), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (35 for 43), 18th. Canucks - Power play: 18.2 percent (10 for 55), 11th. Penalty killing: 70.6 percent (24 for 34), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Coyotes - Curtis Joseph (3-2-0, 1 SO, 1.80 GAA); David Leneveu (0-2-1, 0, 3.30). Canucks - Dan Cloutier (3-1-1, 0, 3.16); Alex Auld (2-0-0, 0, 2.00).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Oct. 5; Canucks, 3-2. At Vancouver, Naslund scored two goals to spoil Gretzky's coaching debut.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 2-3-0 on the road; Canucks - 3-0-0 at home.


Associated Press
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