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7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)22:00 ETNaN:� BRT, October 25, 2018
Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona  Attendance: 12,955

Improving Coyotes host injury-plagued Canucks

Vancouver Canucks at Arizona Coyotes

  1. The Canucks defeated the Golden Knights, 3-2 in a shootout, in Vegas last night. Vancouver had lost its previous six shootouts prior to Wednesday's victory.
  2. The Coyotes beat the Blue Jackets, 4-1, in Columbus on Tuesday, their third road win of the season. Arizona is still winless at home, failing to score in either of their two games on home ice this season.
  3. Bo Horvat scored twice in the win over the Golden Knights and he now leads Vancouver in goals (seven) and points (nine). Horvat is tied for third in goals among centers this season.
  4. Christian Fischer recorded a hat trick in the win over Columbus, the first multi-goal game of his career, with Derek Stepan supplying an assist on all three. Fischer was on the ice for just 13 minutes and 49 seconds, the least amount of ice time in a Coyotes' hat trick since Daniel Carcillo in 2008 (11:54 vs. Dal)
  5. Vancouver will be playing the second game of its first back-to-back this season. The Canucks had a 3-7-0 mark (.300) in 10 instances last season, the fourth-lowest mark in the NHL. The Coyotes are 6-8-2 (.438) when their opponent is playing the second game of a back-to-back since the start of last season.
  6. Arizona has won three of its last four home games against Vancouver, including a 1-0 win over the Canucks on March 31. Derek Stepan, who had an assist on the game-winning goal in March, has a point in each of his last four against Vancouver in any location.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes still are not a .500 team. They are still the lowest-scoring team in the NHL.

But they are not the team they were a season ago, and that could be a problem for the busy and beaten-up Vancouver Canucks when the teams meet Thursday at Gila River Arena.

The Canucks overcame a number of injuries to beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday night. Bo Horvat scored two goals while Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves and stopped all four Vegas attempts in the shootout. Markus Granlund was the only player to score in the four-round shootout.

Vancouver rebounded from a 5-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on Monday.

Canucks injuries sustained by defensemen Christopher Tanev and Alexander Edler and forward Sven Baertschi in that game sidelined them for Wednesday's contest. The Canucks already were playing without injured top-line center Elias Pettersson (concussion), who has missed the last five games, and right wing Brock Boeser (groin).

With all those injuries, the Canucks must turn around and play another game in less than 24 hours. There is a slight chance Pettersson could return, although he might wait until the Canucks open a five-game homestand Saturday. He has five goals and three assists in five games.

The Coyotes begin a five-game homestand at Gila River Arena against the Canucks, and, despite their 3-5 record, they are looking like a considerably improved team from a season ago.

Last season, the Coyotes didn't post a win until Oct. 30 -- they started 0-10-1 -- and didn't claim their third victory until Nov. 16, when they were 3-15-3 record. They never got close to .500 all season, despite going 20-14-7 in the second half of the season.

Now, they are coming off a 2-2 road trip that ended with a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, a win keyed by Christian Fischer's first career hat trick. They also beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1 during the trip, and coach Rick Tocchet was encouraged by his team's play during a 5-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

Maybe the Coyotes still aren't quite where Tocchet would like them to be -- they have scored an NHL-low 14 goals in eight games -- but they're much better off than they were last October, when their season was effectively over by Halloween.

While they are more competitive, the Coyotes would like to start winning at home -- and start scoring some goals. They have been shut out in both of their home games to date, a 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 6 and a 3-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 13.

The return of projected top line center Alex Galchenyuk could help Arizona. He played Tuesday for the first time this season after being out with a lower-body injury that occurred in the Coyotes' first preseason game. He missed seven games, but Tocchet liked what he saw in Galchenyuk's return.

"I think Alex was fine," Tocchet said. "I think that line was struggling a little bit on certain things. They were OK, they were trying to get some chemistry. Alex had surgery a month ago and rehab, and he'll be fine. I think there's some chemistry there."

Galchenyuk was the center on a line that had Lawson Crouse at left wing and Clayton Keller at right wing.

"It took me awhile to get the rhythm a little bit. With every shift I take, I'll get better and better," Galchenyuk said. "I tried to stay calm as I could even though there was a lot of excitement. ... You can't wait to get out there and play with the guys."

Coyotes starting goalie Antti Raanta sat out Tuesday with flu-like symptoms and could return, although backup Darcy Kuemper played well in his absence, allowing a goal in the first minute of the game but none after that. He made 35 saves.

"When they (his teammates) are playing like that, it makes it a lot easier," Kuemper said. "I was trying to do my part, and that was our whole mindset as a team. Everybody do their job."

The Canucks and Coyotes split four games last season, all of which were played in the final six weeks of the season.

Updated October 25, 2018

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