VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks will try to snap a two-game losing streak on home ice when they entertain the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at Rogers Arena (7 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040).
Prior to their 2-1-1 road trip, the Canucks dropped consecutive 4-3 decisions to the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues, the latter game in a shootout. Cory Schneider will be entrusted with the task of defending the Canucks net after watching Roberto Luongo play the last two.
Schneider, who wasn’t feeling well Sunday when the Canucks were drubbed 8-3 in Detroit, pronounced himself fit following today’s morning skate.
“I’m feeling better, I feel fine,” said the redhead from Marblehead, Mass. “Some of the guys got pretty sick. I was a little under the weather but I feel fine now. It was just a stomach bug going around the team for 24 hours, or whatever. Maybe it was food poisoning. We haven’t sourced it back yet so we’re not sure where it came from. But, fortunately, it’s gone, I think.”
As for the Coyotes, who have lost two straight and squandered leads in both, Schneider figures they’ll be a little ornery.
“They have had a couple of wacky games so I’m sure they’ll be hungry to finish on a good note tonight,” he said. “And we know we can be better than we were in Detroit. Obviously we don’t want to play like that.”
Winger David Booth will return to the Canuck lineup after missing the game in Detroit due to illness. He said he was up all night Saturday, went to Joe Louis Arena for an IV in the afternoon but still had no energy to play. Approximately 50 people were at The Joe to see him play.
“I think it was food poisoning,” Booth said. “I was trying to do everything I could but I would not have been a factor in that game. I’m feeling better and I think it’s time to get back out there.”
Booth skated this morning on the third line with centre Jordan Schroeder and fellow winger Mason Raymond. Zack Kassian dropped back to the fourth unit with Max Lapierre and Dale Weise, which means another healthy scratch for Aaron Volpatti. The top two Canuck lines remained intact at the morning skate as Alex Burrows was alongside the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler was with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen.
Phoenix defenceman Keith Yandle admitted he and his mates are still stewing about their back-to-back losses in Edmonton (3-2 in a shootout) and Calgary (4-3 in regulation).
“Obviously Edmonton was tough not to get two points and then to give it up in Calgary with under two minutes was tough,” Yandle said. “It’s something we have to battle back from and have a good game tonight.”
With Kevin Bieksa still out with his groin strain, Canuck coach Alain Vigneault plans to deploy natural left-siders Jason Garrison and Andrew Alberts on the right side.
Mike Smith is scheduled to start in goal for the Coyotes. He’s 6-5-2 with a 2.68 goals against average and .907 save rate. Schneider is 5-3-1 with a 2.69 GAA and .912 save percentage.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks are a perfect 4-0-0 when scoring four or more goals and 0-4-2 when allowing four-plus… Vancouver’s power play enters the night at 18.2 per cent, which ranks it 12th (three-way tie with New Jersey and Chicago). The Phoenix power play is 16th at 17.1 per cent… After allowing three power-play goals Sunday to Detroit, the Canuck penalty kill unit has sunk to 19th at 79.4 per cent. The Coyotes are seventh on the P.K. at 84.4 per cent.
INJURIES: Coyotes defenceman David Schlemko (shoulder) is out. Also not playing are defenceman Derek Morris (upper body), centre Martin Hanzal (upper body) and RW Radim Vrbata (lower body.) Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa (groin) will miss his second straight game while Manny Malhotra (vision) has been shut down for the season.