By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes will play their second of three home games in four nights tonight when they host the Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (11-6-3) will enter the game on a high after its resounding 4-2 defeat of Anaheim on Wednesday.
Mike Smith will start in goal for the Coyotes. Smith made 19 saves vs. the Ducks in his most recent outing. Smith is 8-1-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average in his last 10 games. He has only one start against the Canucks - a 2-1 loss on Nov. 6, 2006 while he and Head Coach Dave Tippett were with the Dallas Stars.
Forward Radim Vrbata will look to continue his goal scoring hot streak; he has netted five in the past three games and 10 in the past 11 games.
"(Vrbata) is a clever guy," Tippett said. "He plays a smart game, finds the openings and creates some opportunities."
Defenseman Keith Yandle will look to build off what Tippett described as his best game of the season on Wednesday when he notched a goal and an assist.
Center Daymond Langkow, who recently rejoined the team after taking a personal leave of absence, skated with teammates at Friday's morning skate but is not expected to return to the lineup tonight.
Photo by Getty Images.
Vancouver (11-9-1) has won three of its past four games. Most recently, the Canucks beat Colorado3-0 on Wednesday to give Head Coach Alain Vigneault his 247th win – the most in franchise history.
Cory Schneider, who stopped all 24 shots vs. the Avs, is expected to make his fourth start in a row tonight ahead of Roberto Luongo, who is healthy.
The Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik, are leading the Canucks offensively, per usual. In fact, Daniel Sedin is leading the NHL with 18 assists and ranks eighth in the League with 24 points. Henrik is not far behind with 15 assists and 22 points.
The Canucks are excelling on special teams; they rank first in the League in power-play efficiency (25.8 percent) and eighth in penalty killing (86.0 percent).
Coyotes right wing Radim Vrbata leads the team and ranks seventh in the NHL with 11 goals in 20 games. Last season it took Vrbata 49 games to score 11 goals.
Canucks center Manny Malhotra scored the game-winning goal vs. Colorado on Wednesday and is third in the NHL in faceoff percentage with a 58.7 success rate.
Coyotes right wing Raffi Torres played 80 regular-season games and 23 playoff games for Vancouver in 2010-11 and scored the lone goal in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals vs. Boston.
Last season the road team won every game played between these teams, whereas the home team won each game the season before that, and in 2008-09, the teams split at each venue.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and XTRA Sports 910 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 7 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.