Goaltender Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes is hit from behind from Alex Edler of the Vancouver Canucks during the second period of Thursday's National Hockey League game at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Edler received a five-minute penalty on the play.
Photograph by: Christian Petersen, Getty Images
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- With their depth at forward as thin as a pair of those see-through Lululemon yoga pants, the Vancouver Canucks knew they’d have to try to win ugly on Thursday.
The Canucks got an early goal from defenceman Chris Tanev and rookie Jordan Schroeder scored the winner midway through the third period as they beat the Phoenix Coyotes 2-1 in National Hockey League action at Jobing.com Arena.
Vancouver also got terrific goaltending from Cory Schneider and did a nice job of clogging up the middle of the ice for much of the night.
Schroeder’s goal, his third of the season, came at 9:53 of the third after an Alex Edler point shot was deflected in front by Jannik Hansen. The puck dropped into the crease area and Schroeder poked it into the empty net.
“Once I saw it sitting on the goal-line my eyes lit up,” Schroeder said. “I put it in and I was hoping they weren’t going to say high stick or anything. Fortunately, they didn’t.
“It was kind of an ugly road win and that’s what we need. We need those types of wins and Schneids played great. It was a good team win, I think.”
The Canucks’ injury situation at forward went from bad to worse at Thursday morning’s game-day skate. Winger Chris Higgins was on the ice for only a moment before he left after tweaking his back. Steve Pinizzotto was left back in Vancouver on Wednesday, battling an illness, and Zack Kassian is on injured reserve with a bad back.
And of course, Ryan Kesler (foot) and David Booth (ankle) are out long-term.
All the injuries meant defenceman Keith Ballard played on the third line alongside Andrew Ebbett and Dale Weise. Andrew Gordon, who played his first game as a Canuck after being called up from the Chicago Wolves, skated on the fourth line with Max Lapierre and Tom Sestito.
“We had our work cut out for us tonight with some injuries and a lineup we are not accustomed to,” said Schneider who faced 34 shots. “But I thought everyone did their part and I think effort was the key. We worked hard.
“It wasn’t necessarily pretty all the time. It wasn’t a Picasso, but it was effective and it got the job done.”
“It is going to have to be that way for a while,” added Ballard, who almost scored on a first-period backhand. “This is what we have, we have a lot of guys down and we have a tough schedule. That’s how it’s going to be.”
The first period went just the way the Canucks hoped it would. They bottled up the Coyotes, managed to get sticks in front of many Phoenix shots and got the period’s only goal from an unlikely source.
Tanev took a drop pass from Mason Raymond, skated deep into the slot and beat Phoenix goalie Mike Smith high to the stick side at the 6:32 mark. The goal was just the second of the season for Tanev.
That goal came not long after a nice defensive play by Raymond, who hustled on the backcheck to thwart an Antoine Vermette breakaway.
“The first period was great,” Schneider said. “They put a lot into the netting up there on shots and they had some good rush chances where I was just able to play the shooter and the guys did a great job of picking up their guys who were going to the net or the trailers and they turned into nothing plays.”
Smith was in the middle of some action in a scoreless second period. He caught Daniel Sedin in the face with his glove as the Canuck winger drove hard to the net at 4:17 of the second. Daniel was cut on the play and had to go the dressing room for repairs but returned later in the period.
Smith was run over behind his net by Edler with less than two minutes remaining in the second. Edler received a five-minute major for charging.
Smith finished the period but did not return to play the third. He was replaced by Jason LaBarbera.
Vermette tied the game on a Phoenix power play at 2:26 of the third. He scored on a rebound after a shot by Radim Vrbata bounced off both Schneider and the crossbar and directly to Vermette. He had an empty net to shoot at from the edge of the crease.
Schneider made a huge game-saving stop on Martin Hanzal, who split the Canuck defence with less than two minutes remaining in the third.
“He kind of pulled it to his forehand and you really don’t have a lot of options when you get there,” Schneider said. “Usually guys try to snap it five-hole and I made sure I closed that up and I got a piece of it.”
“If you are going to win you are going to need different types of contributions from goaltender on out,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault. “Schroeds scored a really big goal at the right time and Chris Tanev’s goal was about him trying to support the attack. He found a hole and he beat a real good goaltender.”
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks were scheduled to charter to Los Angeles after the game. They meet the Kings on Saturday afternoon at the Staples Center ... Defenceman Andrew Alberts was the lone healthy scratch for the Canucks ... The Canucks improved to 15-9-6. Phoenix, now winless in its last five games, fell to 13-14-4.
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