Fighting for first place in the Northwest Division, the Vancouver Canucks have picked a bad time to begin a slide.
The Canucks look to revive their offense and avoid losing three straight for the first time in two months when they host the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday.
Vancouver (36-22-5) reeled off a season-high six consecutive wins from Feb. 10-22, averaging 3.2 goals in those games, but has scored just one goal in each of its last two losses. The Canucks allowed a St. Louis team that had traded away its top two scorers to beat them 3-1 on Tuesday.
“We didn’t make a lot of mistakes but the ones that we made ended up in the back of the net,” coach Alain Vigneault said.
The Canucks are still 19-4-4 since Christmas, but they can’t afford to give up much ground in the tightly contested Northwest. Vancouver, which has not lost three straight since Dec. 19-22, looks to get back on track against a slumping Coyotes team it has dominated lately.
The Canucks have won seven of their last eight against Phoenix, including a 5-2 victory on Dec. 12. They have also outscored the Coyotes 17-7 in winning the last four meetings at GM Place.
Phoenix (27-33-3), meanwhile, has lost five of its last six road games.
With its offense struggling, Vancouver hopes to get better production from the Sedin brothers, who have put up solid numbers in their last two games against Phoenix.
Daniel Sedin, who scored his team-leading 27th goal against the Blues, has a goal and three assists in his last two games against the Coyotes. Henrik Sedin assisted on his twin brother’s goal on Tuesday, and has one goal and five assists in his last two games against Phoenix.
Roberto Luongo made 28 saves in Vancouver’s December win over the Coyotes and is 1-2-0 with a 2.58 goals-against average in his career against them.
Luongo, 12-2-2 with a 2.39 GAA at GM Place since Dec. 8, needs one victory to post a career high for wins in a season. He had 35 in 2005-06 with Florida.
The Coyotes took advantage of playing an emotionally drained Edmonton team on Tuesday and defeated the Oilers 3-0 to win for just the second time in their last nine games.
“You could tell their team was a little flat with everything that was going on with Mess. That took a little wind out of their sails,” Jeremy Roenick said. “And then when Ryan got traded, that’s a gut-wrencher. We definitely saw that their eyes were wide open by that.”
Curtis Joseph made 26 saves Tuesday for his fourth shutout of the season after going 0-3-1 with a 4.55 GAA in his previous four starts.
Joseph did not start against the Canucks in December, and is just 1-7-0 with a 4.11 GAA against them since Jan. 15, 2002. He is 14-20-0 with four ties and a 3.40 GAA in his career against Vancouver.
The Coyotes and Canucks face each other twice more this season, including each team’s regular-season finale on April 8.