Published May 02, 2016
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Canucks' return to the postseason became official since their last trip to the ice and Vancouver will try to keep a foothold on the second seed in the Pacific Division when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Vancouver posted an important shootout win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Monday and then officially clinched a playoff spot after the Kings lost 4-2 in Edmonton the following night. The Canucks, who had a five-season playoff streak snapped last season, are back in the postseason for the sixth time in seven campaigns.
The Canucks had lost two straight in regulation before rallying for the recent 2-1 win over Los Angeles. Daniel Sedin knotted the score at 1-1 with 9:54 left in the third period before Chris Higgins scored the lone goal of the shootout.
Higgins, Vancouver's third shooter, skated up the left side, drifted across the goalmouth and backhanded a shot over a sprawled Jonathan Quick. Eddie Lack sealed the win with a glove stop on Marian Gaborik.
Henrik Sedin notched his 700th career assist on his brother's goal, while Lack made 36 saves for the win.
"It was a big goal for us," Daniel Sedin of his game-tying marker. "It was a well-played game by both teams."
Vancouver sits in second place in the Pacific and is two points ahead of Calgary with two games left for both teams. The Flames host the Kings on Thursday in a battle with major implications for the Western Conference playoff race.
Although injured No. 1 goaltender Ryan Miller has returned to practice, Lack is expected to again get the call in net tonight with Jacob Markstrom serving as the backup.
Miller hasn't played since Feb. 22 due to a sprained knee and it's uncertain if he will get a chance to return to game action before the playoffs. Lack has posted an 11-6-2 record in 19 starts since Miller's injury, creating a potential goaltender controversy heading into the postseason.
Vancouver is closing the regular season on a three-game homestand and will complete the stay at Rogers Arena on Saturday against Edmonton. The Canucks are 22-15-2 at home.
Arizona will miss the playoffs for a third straight season and enters tonight having dropped four of its last five games.
The Coyotes lost a 3-2 regulation decision in Calgary on Tuesday, as Sean Monahan scored the winning goal in the third period for the Flames.
Craig Cunningham posted a goal and an assist in the loss while B.J. Crombeen also lit the lamp for the Coyotes. Mike Smith allowed three goals on 32 shots and made 17 saves in the opening period alone.
"We've got a lot of young guys, who should be really excited to play," said Arizona forward David Moss. "If you're playing in the National Hockey League, it's an honor, and our first period just wasn't good enough from pretty much everybody."
The Coyotes are completing a two-game road trip tonight before ending 2014-15 with Saturday's home test against Anaheim. They are 13-24-3 on the road and have dropped four of their past five games in Vancouver, which posted a 7-1 win over Arizona when the clubs last met at Rogers Arena on Dec. 22.
The Canucks have won two of the last three meetings overall.