Depleted Canucks down Coyotes
HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|Vancouver Canucks' Christopher Tanev (centre) is congratulated by teammates Mason Raymond (left) and Jordan Schroeder (right) after his first-period goal during Thursday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. (REUTERS)
Considering the number of bodies the Vancouver Canucks were missing Thursday, the win was all that more impressive.
Starting a three-game road trip in Phoenix without six of their forwards, the Canucks still pulled off a 2-1 victory over the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
Credit to Cory Schneider's 33-save effort, of course, but it helped that the Coyotes have been offensively challenged of late. In fact, heading into the game, Phoenix had just two goals in their last five games — and Thursday, didn't get on the board until the third period.
But a Jordan Schroeder marker midway through the final frame proved to be the difference as Vancouver picked up their second straight win. It also moved the Canucks back into a tie in points for the Northwest Division lead, all while dealing with numerous ailments.
With Chris Higgins and Zack Kassian both out with back problems, and Steve Pinizzotto sick, they join an injury list that already had Ryan Kesler, David Booth and Manny Malhotra.
Even after recalling winger Andrew Gordon earlier in the day, it meant the Canucks had to dress a defenceman as a forward. That blueliner was Keith Ballard, who skated alongside Andrew Ebbett and Dale Weise, and finished with one shot through 11:39 of ice time. Meanwhile, Gordon slotted into the fourth line with Max Lapierre and Tom Sestito.
The team also got a scare in the second period when Daniel Sedin left the game with a bloody nose after being pushed into the Phoenix net. However, he returned not long after.
In the end, Schneider came up big for his second win in as many starts — making a critical save on a Martin Hanzal breakaway with less than two minutes to go.
Chris Tanev opened the scoring for the visitors with his second of the season, wiring a shot top shelf past goalie Mike Smith after trailing on the play. That held up until the third period when Antoine Vermette put a rebound which went off the crossbar into a wide open net to tie things up. The centre's seventh of the year also came on the power play.
But Schroeder's goal at 9:53 stood as the winner after the rookie tapped in a loose puck following a Jannik Hansen tip.
"We played a good structure," Schroeder told Sportsnet afterwards. "We got pucks behind the D and that helped.
"I was fortunate enough to get a bounce."
Smith, who made 16 saves, did not return to the game to start the third period after defenceman Alex Edle ran him over behind the net in the second. Labarbera came in to stop 14 of 15 shots.
The Canucks, who went 0-for-four on the power play, continue their road trip in Los Angeles against the defending-champion Kings on Saturday (1 p.m., SNET-P) before playing in Colorado on Sunday (5 p.m., SNET-P).