The Vancouver Canucks shutout the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 Monday night for their third straight win and 50th point of the season. The Canucks were led by Ryan Kesler, who scored the game-winning goal just over seven minutes into the first period.
Kevin Bieksa took a slap shot from the point, which Kesler knocked in after Mason Raymond originally put the rebound off the post. It was all the Canucks would need, as both goaltenders put on a brilliant display in net, making for a defensive game.
Kesler’s goal was hard fought and well deserved as the Canucks pressured the Coyotes early in the first period. Kesler recognized the importance of his early goal after the game.
“Obviously when you get one early it helps,” Kesler said in the locker room. “The first period was tough getting back into it, but after that I felt good.”
The Coyotes finished with 19 shots on goal, and Canucks netminder Cory Schnieder stopped every one of them. Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was much more active, and made 40 saves on 41 shots in the loss.
Late in the third period, Coyotes center Antoine Vermette made a pass in the Canucks zone that flew past the blue line and ended up in the Coyotes empty net to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead with a minute left. Dan Hamhuis was credited with the goal for the Canucks after being the closest to the puck.
The loss ended the Coyotes three game winning streak to start the month of April, as Phoenix now falls three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference behind the Detroit Red Wings. The Coyotes beat the Red Wings 4-2 last Thursday at home and will go to Detroit on April 22.
The Canucks now lead the Minnesota Wild by four points in the Northeast Division and are third in the Western Conference. Vancouver has all but guaranteed themselves a playoff berth in 2013, and have just over two weeks to prepare for a run at the Stanley Cup.
The Canucks have the least amount of goals this season out of all division leaders in the NHL, and will have to find a way to score to compliment their great goaltending tandem of Roberto Luongo and Schneider. Do the Canucks have enough fire power to make a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs?
[Image via Creative Commons]