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Canucks Slap Around Coyotes

The Vancouver Canucks didn't look like a team that is pretty much out of the playoff race.

Looking more like a playoff-bound team, the Canucks got a sterling performance from their defense and goaltender Garth Snow for a 3-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.

"I didn't have to make many second saves," said Snow after making 33 saves for his seventh career shutout. "If a goalie can see the puck at this level he usually can make a save. The guys did a great job of taking away the passing lanes and taking away second shots."

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The Canucks, who began the day 11 points out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference, snapped a five-game winless streak.

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  • Adrian Aucoin scored his third goal in as many games, Brad May also scored and Josh Holden had a pair of assists for the Canucks, who also ended a four-game winless streak against the Coyotes. Vancouver hadn't beaten Phoenix since a 5-1 victory on Dec. 17, 1997.

    The victory was the Canucks' second in their last 12 games and their fifth since Marc Crawford replaced Mike Keenan as coach on Jan. 24.

    "I think we're working harder and working a little more intelligently," said Crawford, who is 5-11-5 with the Canucks.

    The Coyotes, who were battling the Dallas Stars for the Western Conference lead as recently as a month ago, lost for the 11th time in their last 13 games. Phoenix is 7-13-3 since the All-Star break and has scored two goals or less in 16 of those games.

    "I wish I could find the answer," said Coyotes captain Keith Tkachuk. "It's a joke. Everybody's to blame here. It's ridiculous. We're coasting ourselves right out of the playoffs."

    The Canucks took a 1-0 lead at 14:04 of the first period on a fluke goal. Aucoin flipped the puck 30 feet into the Coyotes' zone from center ice and the puck bounced once in front of Nikolai Khabibulin before squirting betwen his pads and into the net.

    "Brad May was in the zone and I wanted to hard-rim (a clearing pass) but I had to wait until he got out," Aucoin said. "I didn't have time to wind up. I'm playing with a lot of luck now, that's all I can say."

    Mogilny extended the lead to 2-0 at 2:21 of the second period as he kept the puck on a 2-on-1 break, faked Khabibulin to the ice and slid the puck into the net.

    The Canucks made it 3-0 with 9:17 remaining when Ed Jovanovski jumped on a loose puck during a Coyotes line change and passed to May, who beat Khabibulin from the left circle.

    "I really don't know what to tell you," Phoenix coach Jim Schoenfeld said. "I really don't have any explanation. I do think we have to put an end to this. It's getting to the point where the players on the ice are expecting to lose rather than expecting to win."

    Khabibulin made 19 saves for the Coyotes, who are 2-2 when wearing their green alternate home jerseys.

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