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

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

The Canucks could also be without left wing David Booth
(illness), the team leader with three goals versus Phoenix last