Coyotes-Canucks Preview

Behind Ryan Kesler’s four goals, the Vancouver Canucks have won

consecutive games for the first time in more than a month.

Now Kesler and the Canucks hope to extend that success to Rogers

Arena, where they have mostly struggled going into a five-game

homestand which begins Friday night against the Phoenix

Coyotes.

“We played well enough to win back-to-back games the last couple

weeks, but it didn’t happen,” captain Henrik Sedin told the team’s

official website. “We feel better about ourselves now.”

Two nights after scoring twice and getting the game-winner in a

3-2 victory over Carolina, Kesler did the same Tuesday with two

third-period goals from close range in a 3-1 win over

Nashville.

“It was a battle and there wasn’t a lot of room out there, but

we found a way to win again, and that’s what we need to keep

doing,” Kesler said. “You’ve got to fight to get to those tough

areas and we did tonight.”

Vancouver (15-10-5) closed a 3-1-0 road trip by posting two

straight wins for the first time since a four-game run Oct. 22-28,

and now is after similar success at home. The Canucks have lost

eight of 11 at Rogers Arena and haven’t won consecutive home games

since their first two of the season.

The recent hot streak gives Kesler a team-high 14 goals after

scoring four last season when he was limited to 17 games due to a

broken foot and shoulder injury.

He’s played in every game this season, and the Canucks are back

to leaning on him. They’re 8-1-1 when Kesler has scored and 6-0-0

when he has at least two points.

“Kesler has been playing really well, he was probably our best

player tonight,” coach John Tortorella said after Tuesday’s win.

“He put us on his shoulders there and I thought led the way.”

More production out of Kesler on home ice could help the Canucks

build off the road trip. He has three goals and three assists in 13

home games, compared to 11 goals and five assists in 17 on the

road.

Kesler is also after a goal in a third straight contest against

the Coyotes, who lead the Canucks by a point for eighth place in

the Western Conference and fourth in the Pacific Division.

Phoenix (16-8-4) has allowed at least four goals in five of its

last seven games, going 2-4-1.

The latest disappointment was Wednesday’s 4-1 loss at Calgary,

which evened Phoenix’s record two games into a four-game trip.

Defenseman Keith Yandle scored to give the Coyotes a lead in the

first period. He has goals in consecutive games and has never

scored in three straight in his eight-year career.

“I think we dominated that first period, so kind of unlucky to

come out tied 1-1,” Yandle said. “But at the same time, you have to

come out in the second with a little more jump. We knew they were

going to push back and we’ve got to do a better job there.”

The Coyotes allowed a power-play goal for the third straight

game, dropping their penalty kill to 76.9 percent, one of the worst

in the league.

The Canucks have allowed a league-low 11 power-play goals,

shutting down 89.0 percent of opponents’ chances. Their own 14.1

percent power-play mark has essentially canceled that out, though

they’ve scored on it in six straight games for the first time since

the 2008-09 season.

Phoenix won 3-2 in a shootout at home Nov. 5 in the teams’ lone

meeting after Vancouver took two of three last season.