|VAN||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||4|
|PHX||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||3|
Coach Alain Vigneault's decision to unite forwards Mats Sundin, Pavol Demitra and Ryan Kesler is quickly yielding positive results for the Vancouver Canucks.
The new linemates look to continue their strong offensive production, while helping the Canucks match their longest winning streak of 2008-09 on Thursday night when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes
Entering the month of February, Vancouver (25-20-8) was mired in a season-high eight-game slide (0-5-3) during which it had been outscored 35-22.
To spark the team, Vigneault shifted Sundin - who had three points and a minus-6 rating in his first nine games after signing a deal with the Canucks in mid-December - to the second line with Kesler and Demitra.
The new line debuted Feb. 3 against Carolina, and has since combined for 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) to help Vancouver win three straight - its longest run since reeling off four a season-high four victories in a row Nov. 19-24.
They were particularly productive in Wednesday night's 6-4 win at St. Louis. Sundin scored twice, Demitra had a goal and two assists and Kesler added a goal and an assist as the Canucks overcame an early two-goal deficit to take the opener of their three-game road trip.
Kesler - second on the team with 15 goals and third with 35 points - now has six goals and four assists during a four-game point streak, while Demitra has one goal and seven assists in a four-game run of his own.
"Ryan, in my book, is having a breakthrough season and Pavol is a veteran guy who knows where to go on the ice," said Sundin, who has six goals and four assists since the new line formed. "It's been fun playing with those two guys."
Every game is important for Vancouver, which - along with Phoenix (25-25-5) - is one of nine teams separated by only eight points in the middle of the Western Conference standings.
"This win means a lot," forward Alex Burrows, who scored during the Canucks' four-goal third period, told his team's official Web site. "Even through that slump we were a confident group. We knew we had the pieces to get it done and now we are putting it together."
Phoenix had lost six straight games prior to Wednesday, when Ilya Bryzgalov made 33 saves for his eighth career shutout in a 1-0 victory at Dallas.
"Everybody worked hard (Wednesday)," said forward Enver Lisin, who scored the game's only goal. "We knew they would give (Bryzgalov) lots of shots. We needed to help him out and we needed the game."
Phoenix is seeking its first consecutive wins since Jan. 15-17. The Coyotes are also opening a four-game stretch at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes and Canucks have split two meetings in Vancouver this season. Phoenix lost 1-0 on Nov. 6, before winning 4-1 on Jan. 15.
Sundin has 19 goals and 40 points in 40 games versus the Coyotes, while Demitra has 14 goals and 39 points in 44 career matchups.
|Mar 21 '09||VAN 1 at PHX 5||S. Doan|
|Feb 12 '09||VAN 4 at PHX 3||H. Sedin|
|Jan 15 '09||PHX 4 at VAN 1||J. Lindstrom|
|Nov 06 '08||PHX 0 at VAN 1||K. Bieksa|