Canucks-Coyotes Preview

The Associated Press

While the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks were plenty busy prior to the trade deadline, the surging Phoenix Coyotes understandably didn't feel the need to make a change.

The Coyotes look to extend their point streak to 12 games and avenge their only defeat of the month Tuesday night against the visiting Canucks.

Phoenix (32-21-9) was fourth in the Pacific Division at the end of January, but has climbed its way into first by going 10-0-1 in February. The Coyotes, whose only loss this month came 2-1 in a shootout at Vancouver on Feb. 13, have outscored opponents 31-16 during their hot streak.

"We've had an awful good month here and managed to push ourselves to the top of the division," coach Dave Tippett said. "But I think we all recognize with 20 games left, this is going to be a very hard 20 games. We got ourself in the mix, now we gotta find a way to keep ourselves at the top of the mix."

While several teams bolstered their lineups with trades before Monday's deadline, Phoenix opted to stand pat after acquiring forward Antoine Vermette from Columbus last Wednesday.

"We've been playing terrific hockey in the month of February (and) I didn't want to touch the mix on our current roster," general manager Don Maloney said. "Everybody knows their roles and are playing well."

"It's all about price and acquisition price. There was nothing out there that made sense. We just said 'Why fool around with a good thing?'"

Meanwhile, the Canucks (40-16-7) made several last-minute deals. After sending Taylor Ellington and a couple of fourth-round draft picks to Columbus in exchange for forward Sami Pahlsson, the Canucks brought over promising rookie forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani from Buffalo for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer.

Vancouver also acquired forward Andrew Gordon from Anaheim, sending Sebastian Erixon to the Ducks.

"For our needs immediately and moving forward, we felt that we needed better balance on our team and we needed size and we needed toughness," general manager Mike Gillis told the Canucks' official website.

"I think we got more balance in our line-up, more diversified. If you look at center ice, we've got a lot of strength with a lot of veteran players there ... It's about balance and it's about being able to play in any situation and I think we're better able to play in any situation today then we were."

Gillis hopes to have all his new additions available versus the Coyotes. The Canucks surely can't afford to be undermanned versus Phoenix, which defeated Edmonton 3-1 on the road Saturday for its fifth consecutive win.

Captain Shane Doan scored for the fourth time in three games. Fellow forward Ray Whitney also found the back of net, notching his 21st point over a 17-game span.

Mike Smith made 21 saves to extend his career-best winning streak to 10 games, during which he's recorded a 1.47 goals-against average. Smith, who was spelled by Jason LaBarbera versus the Canucks earlier this month, allowed all five goals in a 5-0 loss to Vancouver on Nov. 25.

The Canucks are hoping to conclude their six-game road trip on a positive note after losing 3-2 in overtime to Dallas on Sunday. Vancouver was on the verge of victory before allowing the game-tying goal to Mike Ribeiro with 53 seconds left in regulation.

Roberto Luongo made 25 saves but surrendered three goals for the third consecutive game.

Luongo is 11-5-1 with three shutouts and a 1.83 GAA over his last 17 meetings with Phoenix. He stopped 23 shots in the Feb. 13 win.

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