Tuesday night seemed to be much of the same story for the Phoenix Coyotes. They played well early on, but melted down late in the game against the San Jose Sharks, losing 5-3 in their first game since the break.
While the meltdowns haven't been consistently in the third period, it seems the Coyotes do seem to go stretches during games while playing very poorly, in a pretty regular basis. That's something that will quite obviously need to change down the stretch for Phoenix.
They'll have a chance to start that turnaround when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
Vancouver comes in as the NHL's top team, with 73 points, two points ahead of the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the race for the President's Trophy. They've lost just 10 regulation games on the season, but have proven to be, at the very least, beatable on the road, compiling a 15-7-4 record away from Vancouver.
The Coyotes head into Wednesday's tilt with 59 points, sitting in sixth, just a point ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks and Sharks for that spot. They had an opportunity to gain two more points, but squandered that lead late to San Jose.
The good news for the Coyotes is that even with their recent struggles, they still could force a tie for fourth place with the idle Nashville Predators, if they can grab a pair of points on Wednesday.
The key for the Coyotes is going to come on their penalty kill. While that kill has looked solid of late, they still rank just 22nd in the league on the PK, stopping less than 80 percent of teams on the man advantage. They'll be hosting a Vancouver team that is third in the league on the power play, and had a pair of goals while playing a man up against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
The meeting is the second of four meetings this season between the two clubs, and the first that the Coyotes will host. They've beaten the Canucks three straight times at home, and bested Vancouver in their only other matchup this season.
If there's one player that we know will show up for the Coyotes it is Keith Yandle. The emerging defenseman added yet another game to his point streak, which now stands at 10. Yandle scored a goal in the loss to San Jose, giving him 15 points during the streak.
If ever there was a time that the Coyotes needed to play a perfect, or near perfect game, it's Wednesday. While other teams may allow them to stick around with the mistakes that Phoenix has been prone to, Vancouver is the NHL's best for a reason. Puck drops at 7:30 local time.