GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes have different goals as they head into the All-Star break after Thursday's meeting at Gila River Arena.
The Canucks (23-20-6) own a one-point lead for the final Western Conference wild-card spot after a 3-2 win in Colorado on Wednesday. The Coyotes (15-26-6) own the second-lowest point total in the NHL, yet they are aiming for their first three-game winning streak of the season.
"It's real good motivation," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We need this team to continue to push forward. We need to continue to grow. You've got surpass what you've done before, and that's an opportunity for us to surpass, so we'll be very motivated for that game."
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Arizona won two games in a row for the fifth time this season, but the Coyotes fell flat the third game out in each of the first four occasions. They lost 5-1 to Anaheim; they generated just 19 shots in an overtime loss at San Jose; they lost 4-1 at Minnesota; and the Ducks shut them out 3-0.
"We're a young team and we're still learning how to win, but one guy can't carry a team around, or two guys, so we have to put it together as a team," Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman Larsson said. "It's hard for everybody to be in the position we're in, out of the playoffs. Everybody wants to win, but we've got to realize how you win in this league.
"If you look at our games, it's two where we compete hard and then three bad ones. If you don't work hard enough in this league, you're not going to get the points."
The Canucks are one of the biggest surprises of the NHL's first half. Few analysts projected them anywhere near the playoff race, but a down year in the Western Conference has the Canucks in contention despite the fact that they have lost more games (26 in regulation or past regulation) than they have won (23).
If Vancouver wants to stay in contention, it will have to improve on a dismal 6-14-3 road record, the second-worst mark in the NHL. (Only the Coyotes are worse away from home, 5-15-4). Back-to-back games against the Avalanche and Coyotes -- the two teams at the bottom of the NHL standings -- are affording the opportunity for progress on the road.
"I think we've got confidence," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. "It's not like when we're on the road we're not confident; we're the same as when we're at home."
Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for Vancouver. Mike Smith will start for Arizona.
On the injury front, Coyotes center Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is out indefinitely, and left winger Max Domi (hand) is week-to-week. Right wingers Shane Doan (upper body) and Jordan Martinook (upper body) are day-to-day. Martinook practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday; Doan did not.
For Vancouver, defensemen Ben Hutton (hand) and Philip Larsen (upper body) and right winger Anton Rodin (knee) are day-to-day. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson (wrist), right winger Derek Dorsett (shoulder) and right winger Jannik Hansen (knee) are out indefinitely.