Canucks-Coyotes Preview

The Associated Press

The Phoenix Coyotes are experiencing their worst stretch of the season, though they can take the ice Thursday night with some backhanded confidence.

The Vancouver Canucks are coming to Phoenix having just matched their own worst run of 2013-14 and it includes their worst defeat in over 16 years.

The Coyotes (21-16-9) have lost four straight in regulation with six goals in that span. They haven't gone longer without a point in the standings since they dropped six in a row in regulation Jan. 27-Feb. 7, 2009.

The Canucks (24-15-9) are 1-4-3 since Dec. 30, matching a run of futility from Nov. 9-25, and their 9-1 loss Wednesday at Anaheim was their worst defeat since an 8-0 loss to Philadelphia on Dec. 31, 1997.

Phoenix was held to one goal for the third time in four games Tuesday in a 2-1 loss at St. Louis. The Coyotes outshot the Blues 8-2 in the third period but were unable to score, leaving them with a more positive demeanor than one might expect from a team that has lost six of seven in regulation to start the new year.

"I thought we pushed hard in the third period," coach Dave Tippett told the team's official website. "We pushed hard to get a chance to get points. It's unfortunate we didn't."

Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson got Phoenix on the board in the final minute of the second period. He's scored in consecutive games while Coyotes forwards have been shut out for the last six periods.

"The process was a lot better," captain Shane Doan said. "Obviously, the results weren't there and we're in a results business so we have to make sure we take care of that, but the process was there."

Tippet was also pleased with goaltender Mike Smith, despite losing his fifth straight start in regulation. Smith made 16 saves and fell to 0-5-2 since Dec. 23.

"I thought he was solid," Tippett said. "I thought we were solid in front of him, too. We gave up a few chances early but after that, we were pretty solid. That's what we need. It has to be a group effort if you're going to be successful. Your goaltender needs to play well, but we have to play well in front of him."

Since the start of last season, Smith is 2-1-1 in five starts against Vancouver with a 1.88 goals-against average.

The Canucks might be itching to get their own No. 1 goalie back after Wednesday's embarrassment. Roberto Luongo has missed five games with an ankle injury, though he's with the team on its three-game trip against Pacific Division foes and is considered day-to-day.

Eddie Lack started his fifth straight game, and after allowing three goals on 13 shots he was replaced by Joacim Eriksson. Eriksson, making his NHL debut, fared no better, yielding six goals on 30 shots.

"It does me no good, it does the players no good to discuss anything that happened here," Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "The biggest thing for us is we just need to get out of here and get ready for our next game."

Six of the goals came on the Ducks' 11 power-play chances, setting a record for power-play goals allowed in a game by the Canucks. They've faced 18 short-handed situations in the last two games, which pretty well explains their lack of offense.

Zack Kassian scored with two seconds left in the second period to ensure the Canucks wouldn't be shut out for a second straight game.

The Coyotes beat the Canucks 3-2 in a shootout at home on Nov. 5 and lost 3-2 in overtime in Vancouver on Dec. 6.

The Canucks are 3-0-1 in the last four meetings.

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