NHL

Canucks kick off post-Luongo era with shutout loss to Coyotes

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The Canadian Press
3/4/2014 11:42:59 PM
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Antoine Vermette scored late in the first period, Mike Smith stopped 23 shots and the Phoenix Coyotes got back to their defensive ways in a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

After some shaky performances coming out of the Olympic break, the Coyotes had a strong night in their own end, blocking shots and limiting scoring opportunities.

Phoenix held Vancouver to 12 shots until midway through the third period. Smith made some tough saves down the stretch for his third shutout of the season and 27th in his career, helping Phoenix move ahead of Vancouver to tie Winnipeg for ninth in the Western Conference.

Eddie Lack kept Vancouver in it with 31 saves, but the Canucks were unable get much going offensively to lose for the ninth time in 10 games.

Both teams needed a jump-start after slipping down the Western Conference pecking order.

Vancouver lost seven straight games before the Olympic break and followed a victory over St. Louis by losing to Minnesota, then Ottawa. Adding to the Canucks' problems, Daniel Sedin, tied for the team lead in points, suffered a lower-body injury against the Senators and was out against the Coyotes.

The team also dealt veteran goalie Robert Luongo to Florida earlier Tuesday.

Phoenix has been inconsistent since starting the season strong, following wins against some of the NHL's best teams with losses against some of the worst.

Despite saying they needed to play with urgency, the Coyotes have laboured since the Olympic break ended, earning one point in three games. Phoenix has had trouble holding leads, coughing it up five times in the past 11 games, including Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Blues, when they gave up four goals in the third period.

Vancouver had a similar problem against the Senators, allowing four straight goals after going up 2-0.

The Coyotes and Canucks played with a testiness expected between two teams scrapping for a playoff spot, with plenty of hitting, pushing and shoving throughout the first period. Phoenix had good pressure in the period and broke through late when Vermette fought off two Canucks and took a couple of swipes before knocking in a rebound for his 22nd of the season.

The Coyotes kept up the pressure in the second period, but Lack was sharp, making some tough saves, particularly during an early Phoenix flurry.

Vancouver couldn't find any holes in Phoenix's defence, though, going 13 minutes spanning the second and third periods without a shot on goal.

The Coyotes thought they had a 2-0 lead when Mikkel Boedker scored midway through the third period. But it was waved off because Vermette, who was being held down by two Canucks players, was in the crease.

It didn't matter the way they were playing defence and Smith was seeing pucks in his crease.

Notes: A moment of silence was held before the game for two Phoenix police officers, including one who died, during a shootout on Monday. ... The Coyotes added what they hope will be a valuable scorer, acquiring Martin Erat and John Mitchell from the Capitals for forward Chris Brown, defenceman Rostislav Klesla and a fourth-round selection in the 2015 draft. ... Coyotes C Martin Hanzal did not play due to a lower-body injury. ... Vermette has scored 11 of his 22 goals this season against Canadian opponents. ... Vancouver plays at Dallas on Thursday in another game against a team fighting for one of the West's last playoff spots.

Eddie Lack (Photo: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
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