Vancouver (45-22-1) at Arizona (30-35-5)

  • Game info: 9:00 pm EST Wed Apr 2, 2003
  • TV: SNP
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Vancouver Canucks hope to move closer to their first division title in 10 years when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Canucks are just two points ahead of Colorado for the top spot in the Northwest, but can clinch their first division title since 1992-93 with wins over Phoenix and Los Angeles in their final two games. The Avalanche have games remaining against Los Angeles, Anaheim and St. Louis.

The winner of the Northwest will likely finish third in the Western Conference and face either Anaheim, Minnesota or Edmonton in the first round of the playoffs. The loser will face St. Louis in the opening round.

It is almost certain that five teams in the conference will eclipse 100 points, that first time that has happened.

“It’s scary,” Vancouver’s Brendan Morrison said. “It’s pretty remarkable. It has never happened before and probably never will again.”

Also on the minds of the Canucks is trying to get captain Markus Naslund the scoring title.

Naslund scored his league-leading 47th goal and 103rd point in a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Sunday. He has five goals and five assists during a six-game points streak.

Naslund is one point ahead of Colorado’s Peter Forsberg and one goal ahead of linemate Todd Bertuzzi and Colorado’s Milan Hejduk. While Naslund has two games remaining, Forsberg and Hejduk have three.

The Coyotes are playing like a team that was eliminated from playoff contention last week, having lost a season-high six straight.

Mike Johnson scored twice Monday as Phoenix gained a point for the first time in six games with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

“We had some breakdowns, but I thought we played harder than in the other games,” Johnson said. “They’re in the same boat we are. It’s a tough situation when you have a few games left and you’re not playing for a playoff spot.”

Phoenix has been outscored 26-9 during the losing streak.

STANDINGS (through March 31): Canucks - 103 points, 1st place, Northwest Division. Coyotes - 74 points, 3rd place, 33 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Naslund, 47 goals, 56 assists and 103 points; Darren Langdon, 159 PIM. Coyotes - Johnson, 23 goals, 39 assists and 62 points; Brad Ference, 144 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 31): Canucks - Power play: 21.0 percent (86 for 409), 3rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (321 for 382), 12th. Coyotes - Power play: 14.0 percent (53 for 378), 26th. Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (326 for 400), 26th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Dan Cloutier (33-15-6, 2 SO, 2.44 GAA); Peter Skudra (9-5-6, 1, 2.72). Coyotes - Brian Boucher (15-20-7, 3.03); Zac Bierk (4-9-1, 1, 2.17).

SEASON SERIES: Canucks, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: March 27; Canucks, 5-1. At Vancouver, British Columbia, Naslund’s assist made him the first player to reach 100 points this season, and Daniel Sedin scored one goal and set up another.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 23-10-6-1 on the road; Coyotes - 16-16-5-2 at home.

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