The Canucks look for their third straight win against a struggling Coyotes team in Phoenix tonight. The Coyotes have lost their last four in a row at home, allowing over four goals a game in the process. They are 10-9-5 in Glendale this season and only the last-place Edmonton Oilers (7-13-4) have fewer home-ice wins in the West.
Roberto Luongo gets the start in net tonight for the Canucks. He had 25 saves in a 3-2 loss to Phoenix earlier this season, but is still 8-4-1 with a 1.95 GAA in 13 games against the Coyotes since being acquired by the Canucks prior to 2006-07.
Luongo will look to continue a hot streak that has seen him post a 12-0-5 record in his last 17 starts; his last regulation loss coming almost two months ago on December 5th against the St Louis Blues.
Aaron Volpatti will sit out after suffering an upper body injury during the first period of yesterday’s game against the Dallas Stars. Jeff Tambellini slides back in on the fourth line right wing, while Tanner Glass will move over to the left side. The defensive pairings will remain the same.
The Coyotes are the fifth highest scoring team in the Western Conference, but don’t have a player with more than 15 goals, or a forward with more than 40 points. They have 9 players between 10-15 goals, and are one of only two teams in the NHL with a defenseman (Keith Yandle 9-36-45) leading the team in scoring (Nashville’s Shea Weber being the other). Conversely, the Canucks have three forwards with more than 40 points (D Sedin, H Sedin, Kesler) and two with more than 25 goals (D. Sedin, Kesler).
“The Coyotes are a real strong team, one of the best teams in the conference, they play real hard in both ends and it’s going to be a good matchup,” said Coach Alain Vigneault.
Tonight’s Game features one of the league’s best power play units against one of its worst. The Canucks lead the NHL with 49 power play goals and are tops on the road at 28.6 percent, while the Coyotes rank a lowly 22nd on the penalty kill at 79.6 percent.
After the game the Canucks return home to prepare for a Friday night matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks.