Final - OT
  for this game

Coyotes and Canucks tangle in the desert

Mar 8, 2011 - 4:12 PM
(Sports Network) - Two days after halting their worst losing streak of the season with a victory over one of the Western Conference's best, the Phoenix Coyotes hope to make it two victories in a row as they host the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks at Arena.

The Coyotes seized brief control of the Pacific Division with an eight-game winning streak from Feb. 5-22, but then dropped five straight (0-4-1) prior to Saturday's 5-4 shootout victory over the Central Division-leading Red Wings. Phoenix now finds itself four points back of first-place San Jose in the division and seventh overall in the Western Conference.

The Coyotes seemed headed to a sixth straight setback versus the Red Wings, but got third-period goals from Mikkel Boedker, Ray Whitney and Martin Hanzal, who tied the game with 1:57 left in the third to force overtime. Radim Vrbata then had the lone shootout tally to give the Coyotes a victory in the opener of a three-game homestand.

"It's so tight [in the Western Conference] that you can't afford losing points," said Vrbata. "So now we have a homestand where we need to really get our points."

Ilya Bryzgalov settled down after a slow start to make 22 saves, including all eight faced in the third period and another four in overtime.

Phoenix did lose defenseman Derek Morris to a lower-body injury, but he was able to practice on Monday and is day-to-day.

The Coyotes have won six of their last seven in the desert since a home loss to the Canucks on Feb. 2. Vancouver blew out Phoenix, 6-0, in that one, getting a 23-save shutout from Roberto Luongo and a pair of goals by Ryan Kesler.

Bryzgalov did not finish the game and fell to 7-7-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average in his career versus Vancouver.

The Canucks snapped a three-game slide in Phoenix with the win and avenged a 3-2 home loss at the hands of the Coyotes on Nov. 21.

Luongo is 9-8-1 with a 2.15 GAA versus Phoenix and should start tonight after getting the day off Sunday. Backup Cory Schneider shined in his place, making 26 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Ducks for the first shutout of his career.

"I was most happy that we got the win," Schneider said. "We didn't give them a whole lot in the third. It's a good feeling to finally get this out of the way, but the team is more important. I've never really been a shutout guy, I haven't had a lot of them in my career, but to have one at this level is a good milestone and something to build off of."

Manny Malhotra scored twice, including the 100th of his career, and Daniel Sedin added a power-play tally as Vancouver won consecutive contests for the first time since a six-game win streak from Jan. 24-Feb. 7.

Despite recent inconsistency, the Canucks still lead the NHL with 93 points, seven more than the Red Wings and Flyers.

Vancouver has won the first two contests of a five-game swing and hope to get forward Chris Higgins into the lineup during the trip. Higgins has yet to make his Canucks debut due to a fractured thumb suffered prior to his trade from Florida to Vancouver prior to last week's deadline.

Forward Mason Raymond, meanwhile, is questionable for this game after suffering a shoulder injury against the Ducks.