Canucks seek to ‘turn it on’ in encounter vs. Coyotes

Rick Tocchet has been sounding the alarm the past few weeks about his team’s performance, and now the Vancouver Canucks’ coach has more ammunition as they prepare to face the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night in Tempe, Ariz.

Sure, the Canucks (46-21-8, 100 points) remain atop the Pacific Division and sit second in the Western Conference. The Canucks, however, have lost three of four games after opening a three-game trip with a 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday.

Tocchet has been telling his charges that they could not continue to have success with sub-standard performances.

“You can’t save it for two more weeks,” Tocchet said, alluding to the coming Stanley Cup playoffs. “It has to happen now. It’s hard to turn it on.”

The Canucks were hit with a hard reality against the defending Stanley Cup-champion Golden Knights. Vancouver surrendered four goals in the first period and trailed 5-1 less than two minutes into the second before attempting an ill-fated comeback.

“Everyone’s got to look inwards here,” Vancouver captain Quinn Hughes said. “We’ve still got two games on this trip where we need the wins, and we need to play better than we did. We have that opportunity (Wednesday).”

The Canucks remain without top goaltender Thatcher Demko due to a knee injury sustained on March 9. With Casey DeSmith having played in net in Las Vegas, Arturs Silovs likely will receive his second NHL start of the season.

Vancouver also may be dealing with another change — this one from the NHL — after defenseman Nikita Zadorov was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for a boarding infraction on Brett Howden late in the first period.

The Coyotes (31-38-5, 67 points) will return to action for the first time since dropping an 8-5 decision to the New York Rangers on Saturday. It was a 3-3 game going into the third period, and the Coyotes made it a 6-5 affair before a pair of late empty-net goals by the Rangers rounded out the scoring.

But there were no moral victories to be found, even though the loss by a team officially eliminated from playoff contention came at the hands of a Rangers squad atop the league standings.

“The third period was frustrating,” Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse said. “We go in tied and (to) allow them to score three goals is no good. Against the top team in the league, you can’t do that.”

The Coyotes have won three of five outings in their seven-game homestand, including 8-4 against the Nashville Predators last Thursday.

Offensively, the Coyotes have plenty of players making their mark. Rookie Josh Doan has two goals and five points in his first three NHL games, while Clayton Keller has seven goals and 13 points during an eight-game point streak. Nick Bjugstad has scored in four consecutive contests, and Matias Maccelli has tallied in three straight games.

Arizona’s issue against New York was at the other end of the rink.

“We generated enough offense,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We played good defense, but we had major breakdowns, we made critical mistakes, and that’s frustrating.

“We were there, why not get the two points? We scored five goals against a really good team; there’s no reason for us to not win that game.”

–Field Level Media