Canucks lone blemish in Coyotes' stellar month
The Canucks pay a visit Tuesday night to the Phoenix Coyotes, whose lone setback in 11 games during the month of February was a 2-1 shootout loss at Vancouver.
Vancouver (40-16-7) made the biggest splash on trade deadline day, sending Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack Kassian. The Canucks also bolstered the depth up front by picking up Sami Pahlsson and Andrew Gordon.
"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," Canucks GM Mike Gillis told the team's official website.
"I think we got more balance in our lineup, more diversified. If you look at centre 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 than we were."
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 goals-against average over his last 17 meetings with Phoenix. He stopped 23 shots in the Feb. 13 shootout win.
Phoenix defeated Edmonton 3-1 on the road Saturday for its fifth consecutive win.
Coyotes 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.
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 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," Coyotes head 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."
Phoenix didn't make a move Monday, but acquired 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," Coyotes 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?'"
Vancouver is 6-2-2 in the last 10 meetings with the Coyotes, with three shutouts over that span.
The Canucks begin their seven-game homestand Thursday against St. Louis.