Canucks put milestones aside, face Coyotes in push for Pacific’s top spot

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 10:11 AM

It’s no surprise that milestone moments are coming fast and furious for the Vancouver Canucks in such a breakout season.

As the Canucks prepare to host the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night, however, those accolades are secondary to the opportunity of claiming the top spot in the Pacific Division and moving on to bigger quests in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“We put in too much work in the summer and during the season to become a good hockey team to worry about milestones,” Vancouver forward J.T. Miller said. “They’re great now, something we can celebrate in summer, but we have work to do.”

The Canucks (48-22-8, 104 points) are coming off a 4-3 comeback win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday that has them five points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers in the race for the division title.

In Monday’s game, Miller — who has two goals and nine assists in an eight-game point streak — recorded three assists to earn his first career 100-point season.

Meanwhile, Brock Boeser scored his 40th goal, the first Canucks player to reach that mark since 2010-11. Captain Quinn Hughes is up to 88 points, the fourth-highest total for an American-born defenseman.

Those are heady achievements, but the Canucks are more excited about defeating the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Golden Knights and building from the win.

“It gives us a lot of belief,” said forward Conor Garland, who scored twice on Monday. “We think we’re a good team, and it’s nice to beat good teams. We understand we’ve had a bit of a stretch here, but it’s hard to win at this time of year, and it was good to have a game like that … a playoff-type game.”

The Coyotes enter Wednesday’s game after a 5-0 loss to the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday in the second outing of a five-game trip. Arizona (33-40-5, 71 points) was blanked for only the second time this season, but the Coyotes could make a strong case they deserved a much better fate.

Arizona outshot the Kraken 39-25, including 18-9 in the second period.

“We had a lot of Grade-A chances, but we didn’t have a lot of time to execute,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “It’s not easy. For us, we need to learn from it. There are circumstances that are distractions, and you need to stay with it. I think in the third, it’s not because we didn’t play well … they got a goal early, and then it was tougher for us to generate offense.”

The Coyotes had their modest two-game winning streak snapped.

The team also on Tuesday announced a couple of key players are likely to miss the remainder of the season due to injuries. Defenseman Travis Dermott suffered an upper-body injury in Sunday’s game against the San Jose Sharks. Also, forward Nick Bjugstad is out due to an undisclosed injury that Tourigny said is longer than day-to-day.

Bjugstad had enjoyed one of his best career seasons with 22 goals and 23 assists.

The Coyotes have only four games remaining this season.

–Field Level Media