Coyotes-Canucks Preview

Captain Henrik Sedin feels that the Vancouver Canucks overlooked

their last opponent.

The Phoenix Coyotes probably wouldn’t mind if they took that

same approach as they limp into town on the final stop of their

western Canada swing.

The Northwest Division-leading Canucks will try to rebound from

their worst defensive effort of the season – and avoid their

first three-game home slide in two seasons – on Tuesday night when

they open the season series with Phoenix.

Back from a 2-1-1 trip that ended with Sunday’s 8-3 loss to

Detroit, Sedin could offer only one explanation why the Canucks

(10-4-4) gave up six unanswered goals after his twin brother,

Daniel, scored twice, and Chris Higgins, found the back of the net

in the first period.

“I think it was just a matter of us maybe taking it like it was

the last game of the road trip, and I don’t think we were 100

percent focused on the game,” Sedin, who had two assists in the

loss to raise his team-best total to 15, said on Monday. “That

shouldn’t happen, but that’s what happened.”

Losing at Rogers Arena is also something the Canucks don’t

expect, but they’ve dropped their last two there by 4-3 margins

after winning five straight against visitors by a combined 13-5

score. Vancouver’s last three-game home slide was an 0-0-3 stretch

from Jan. 8-22, 2011.

Phoenix (8-7-3) has won three of four in Vancouver since

recording two victories and a tie in its previous 17 visits, but

the team arrives with no momentum after giving up another lead. The

Coyotes had a 2-0 second-period advantage in Saturday’s 3-2

shootout defeat in Edmonton then yielded two goals in the final two

minutes of Sunday’s 5-4 loss to Calgary.

“That’s two games in a row that we had a lead and we gave it

away,” said coach Dave Tippett, whose team was on a 7-2-2 run

heading into its trip. “…We have to find a way to close these

games out. That’s not who we are as a team. Very uncharacteristic

of us.”

Perhaps improving on the power play would help the Coyotes avoid

a season-worst third straight defeat. They are 3 for 32 in those

situations over the last seven games. It’s uncertain if Radim

Vrbata (lower body) – the club leader with seven power-play

points – or team goal scoring leader (seven) Martin Hanzal

(upper body) will be back in the lineup to help that unit.

The Canucks, who could be without defenseman Kevin Bieksa

(groin) for a second straight game, gave up a season high-tying

three power-play goals on Sunday – all coming in the second

period.

It’s uncertain if Roberto Luongo will make a third consecutive

start after giving up the second-most goals of his career on

Sunday. Luongo went 1-1-0 with a 2.92 goals-against average in two

starts – both at home – against Phoenix last season.

Cory Schneider turned aside 56 of 57 shots in the two matchups

in Glendale, with each club winning once.

Phoenix’s Mike Smith, who has started the last 11 games, was in

net for the last two between these teams in 2011-12, both Coyotes

victories.

The Canucks could also be without left wing David Booth

(illness), the team leader with three goals versus Phoenix last

season.