Game 31: Canucks vs. Coyotes (12.06.13)
It's been a while since it's been said but the Canucks are on a roll coming off a successful win trip that saw them win three out of four games and close out with back-to-back wins, most recently a 3-1 triumph over the Predators on Tuesday. The key for Vancouver now is to continue the momentum they gained on the road and not suffer another home ice letdown like they had during their last home stand that closed out with a disappointing 1-2-2 record.
They'll especially want to come up with a big effort tonight knowing how critical this game is as far the playoff picture is concerned. Vancouver enters play today one point back of Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot but the Coyotes hold two games in hand. The Canucks got some help from the Flames on Wednesday who knocked off the Coyotes by a 4-1 score. Vancouver will once again be without Alex Burrows tonight as well as Alexander Edler, who joined the list of walking wounded on Tuesday after suffering a knee injury and is out indefinitely. Roberto Luongo is expected to get the start for the Canucks while Mike Smith should be back in net for the Coyotes after having Wednesday night off.
Puck drop at 7 pm PT - Live on Sportsnet Pacific, The TEAM 1040, or online at teamradio.ca.
Keys to the Game
Play with desperation. Tonight's game is as close to a playoff game as you will get in December and the Canucks have to realize the dire straits they would be putting themselves in if they don't come away with a win.
Road Kes comes home. 16 of Kesler's 22 points – including 11 of his 14 goals – have come away from home. As great as a road warrior he has been, the Canucks would love it if Kesler can produce some of that magic at Rogers Arena too.
Stay disciplined. If the Coyotes have had an Achilles' heel this season, it's been their penalty kill which is only successfully fending off 76.9 percent of opposition power plays. Going up against a red hot Canucks' power play, they'll need to find a way to avoid the sin bin.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Coyotes when they lead after one period this season (10-0-0).
Assists needed by David Booth to reach 100 career helpers.
Times the Coyotes have lost consecutive games this season.
Straight games with a power play goal scored by the Canucks. They are 6-for-24 (25 percent) during the stretch.
Points recorded by Jason Garrison (1-7-8) in his last six games since snapping a 14-game point drought.
Days since Andrew Alberts' last game played (Oct 24 at New Jersey).