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COYOTES VS. VANCOUVER: GAME PREVIEW

Tuesday, 01.31.2006 / 1:42 PM / News
Arizona Coyotes
Vancouver at Phoenix
Vancouver Phoenix

Vancouver at Phoenix Game Preview

GAME: Vancouver Canucks (29-18-5) at Phoenix Coyotes (26-24-3).

TIME: Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST.

Despite being without leading scorer and captain Markus Naslund, the Vancouver Canucks finally got their first win on a season-high seven-game road trip. The Canucks look to carry over the momentum from that victory when they face the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Canucks lost the first three games of the trip before defeating Colorado 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night.

With Naslund missing his first game of the season with a groin injury, Canucks coach Mark Crawford called upon Jarkko Ruutu in the shootout. The forward converted on his first shootout attempt of the season and Alex Auld stopped all three of the Avalanche's tries for the win.

"We knew coming in that other guys are going to have to step up and it was nice that Jarkko got that one," forward Todd Bertuzzi said. "I was saying before we came out here that he is one of the most underrated guys, and a lot of people don't give him credit."

Ruutu also scored his 10th goal of the season in the second period, and Ryan Kesler's third-period goal was his first in 24 games.

Auld made a career-high 40 saves and has started 28 of Vancouver's last 31 games. He is 16-10-2 with a 2.88 goals-against average during that span.

Vancouver was shut out on the power play for the second straight game Saturday, and has just two power-play goals in its last 20 chances.

The Canucks, who won seven of eight games before the road trip began, close the trip with three crucial contests against Northwest Division rivals. Vancouver plays back-to-back games at division-leading Calgary on Friday and Saturday, and faces Edmonton on Monday.

The Canucks have won nine of their last 12 games against the Coyotes, including two of three this season.

Phoenix has split its first two games on a season-high 10-game homestand that includes the Olympic break. The Coyotes suffered a heartbreaking 4-3 shootout loss to the Oilers on Sunday night.

The Coyotes allowed Chris Pronger to score with 0.3 seconds remaining to force overtime, and the Oilers went on to win in the sixth round of the shootout.

"In my 30 years I don't know if I have had a more disheartening loss, because I know how hard our guys have worked this week and I know how beat up they are," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "I was proud of their effort. It's a tough way to lose a hockey game, but maybe this will bring us closer."

Despite the defeat, the Coyotes are 8-3 in overtime games. Phoenix's Curtis Joseph had 27 saves and is 5-1-1 in his last seven starts.

Boyd Devereaux scored against the Oilers, giving him two goals in the last three games after only scoring four in the first 49.

Phoenix killed off all eight of Edmonton's power-play opportunities, and has killed off 37 of their opponents' last 39 power-play chances.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 63 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Northwest Division. Coyotes - 55 points, 4th place, 17 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 23 goals and 54 points; Henrik Sedin, 35 assists; Bertuzzi, 82 PIM. Coyotes - Mike Comrie, 17 goals; Ladislav Nagy, 41 assists and 56 points; Sean O'Donnell, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Canucks - Power play: 19.1 percent (65 for 340), 8th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (262 for 323), 19th. Coyotes - Power play: 18.2 percent (65 for 357), 12th. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (271 for 335), 20th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Auld (21-13-3, 2.78 GAA); Maxime Ouellet (0-2-1, 4.00). Coyotes - Joseph (21-13-1, 2 SO, 2.73); Brian Boucher (3-6-0, 3.89).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 26; Coyotes, 2-1. At Glendale, Ariz., Nagy had a goal and an assist, and Joseph made 34 saves to lift Phoenix.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 11-15-2 on the road; Coyotes - 14-10-2 at home.

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