By Dave Vest VANCOUVER -- The Coyotes haven’t played many clunkers this season, but their 4-1 loss to Vancouver at GM Place on Tuesday night clearly is a game they’d quickly like to forget.
"Everything that makes us a good team -- there were a lot of those elements missing tonight," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "At this time of year, that's unacceptable. If we're planning on getting better before the playoffs start, we have to compete a lot harder."
The Canucks (46-26-4), who lead the Northwest Division, scored goals on their first two shots en route to the victory, which evened the season series between the teams at two games apiece.
Radim Vrbata notched his 24th goal of the season for the Coyotes (47-24-6) on a power play to cut the deficit to 2-1 at 16:40 of the first period, but Henrik Sedin upped Vancouver’s lead back to two goals less than a minute later by scoring an unassisted fluke goal (see KEY MOMENT below). Sedin's twin brother Daniel added a cosmetic goal at 12:16 of the second period.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo stopped 32 of 33 shots, including a terrific glove save on a shot by Vrbata with 12:06 left in the third period. The only goal Luongo allowed happened partly because he lost his stick in traffic.
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who is having his best NHL season, did not play well in the first 28 minutes, but Tippett elected to keep him in the game what with another game in Calgary on Wednesday night looming.
Henrik Sedin had a goal and two assists to increase his point total to an NHL-leading 104. The 104 points tie the franchise record set by Markus Naslund.
Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault said Henrik Sedin's line, with Daniel and Alex Burrows, dominated the game.
"Hank's line had one of its best games of the year at both ends of the ice," Vigneault said. "That, combined with the fact that our goalie was better than their goalie, was the reason we won the game."
Tippett said it was difficult for his team to stay in the game mentally after falling behind by two goals before the game was five minutes old.
"They were a very determined team right from the get-go," Tippett said. "The first two shots on goal went in... We put ourselves behind the eight-ball very early. Not a lot of emotion; not a lot of push-back. It was a disappointing game for us."
Trailing by a goal late in the first period, Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov attempted to play the puck behind the Phoenix net. He misplayed it, however, and sent it directly to Henrik Sedin’s stick a few feet away. Sedin quickly brought the puck around the left side of the goal and tucked it into the empty net at 17:19.
"That might be one of the easiest goals I've ever scored," Sedin said. "I think he fanned a little."
The short-handed goal came just 39 seconds after Phoenix had cut a 2-0 deficit to 2-1.
"It seemed to zap some of the emotion out of our team," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
• Defenseman Derek Morris absorbed a nasty check from behind by Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler at 13:42 of the first period. Kesler was called for boarding (5:00) and received a game misconduct for the hit, which left Morris with a bloody nose. Morris remained in the game.
• The first period was suspended with 1:00 left on the clock so members of the arena’s maintenance crew could repair a damaged pane of glass behind Vancouver's goal. The teams went to their dressing rooms for the intermission, returned after the standard break, played the last minute of the first period, took another short break, then started playing the second period.
• Captain Shane Doan delivered a game-high five hits.
• Center Robert Lang missed his 12th consecutive game because of a lower-body injury.
• Phoenix scratched Paul Bissonnette, Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider, Viktor Tikhonov and Jim Vandermeer. Vancouver scratched Nolan Baumgartner, Pavol Demitra and Shane O'Brien.
"We're an easy team to play against when we're not playing hard, and we weren't playing that hard tonight."
"It was a dirty hit (by Ryan Kesler), obviously. But what do you do? It's part of the game. If I'm a little quicker back to the puck maybe that doesn't happen."
"If I don't score one more point I am still going to look back and go into the playoffs with a lot of confidence, so it doesn't matter for me. We could have had a few more. It feels good."
• Jan. 7, 2010: VAN 4, PHX 0
• March 30, 2010: VAN 4, PHX 1
• Dec. 29, 2009: PHX 3, VAN 2 (SO)
• March 10, 2010: PHX 4, VAN 3 (SO)
1 - 0 VAN