The Vancouver Canucks and the Arizona Coyotes meet Thursday in Tempe, Ariz., with both clubs on a hot streak.
The teams are destined to miss the Stanley Cup playoffs, but instead of tanking for the best lottery odds to select first in the 2023 NHL Draft and nab can't-miss prospect Connor Bedard, the Canucks are riding a five-game winning streak and 8-2-1 roll while the Coyotes are on a 4-0-2 run and have won four consecutive home games.
Vancouver kicks off a three-game road trip after an impressive 5-2 home win over the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
"It's huge for our group," said forward Brock Boeser, who collected three assists. "Our group has been working hard in practice and really trying to dial in the structure and get these wins. It gives us confidence and shows if we play the right way, we can be a really good team in this league."
The Canucks have a slew of players holding hot hands, with Andrei Kuzmenko having scored 11 goals in his last 12 games, J.T. Miller having netted four goals and six points in a three-game run and Elias Pettersson collecting two goals and seven points in a five-game stretch.
The supporting cast has had a huge impact, with the latest contributor being Guillaume Brisebois. The 25-year-old defenseman drafted in 2015 scored his first NHL goal against Dallas.
"I can't really put words into it," said Brisebois, who has played 22 games over five professional seasons. "Now I can reflect on it and I'm pretty happy."
The Coyotes, who sit two points behind the Canucks -- albeit having played two more games -- continue to shine at Mullett Arena where they have an 18-11-3 record.
A big part of their success has been offensive explosion from forward Clayton Keller. Keller, who scored twice in Tuesday's' 4-3 overtime win over the Calgary Flames, has netted six goals and 12 points in a six-game streak, and become the first Coyotes player to reach 30 goals and 70 points since the 2011-12 season.
Since Feb. 1, he has 30 points (13-17-30) in 18 games, second in the league behind superstar Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers.
"When things are going good, you want to keep doing what's working," Keller said. "You don't want to get crazy and start doing things (you) don't normally do, When I stick with what's working, I'm successful."
With Keller leading the way -- especially after the club jettisoned a handful of key players before the March 3 trade deadline, among them Jakob Chychrun, Nick Bjugstad and Shayne Gostisbehere -- the Coyotes have several players at their best.
For example, Barrett Hayton has notched three goals and 10 points in a five-game streak and rookie forward Matias Maccelli has jumped to third among rookies with 37 points.
As a result, the often downtrodden Coyotes are playing spoilers and impacting the playoff race.
"The boys are playing hard right now, playing with desperation and playing for each other," coach Andre Tourigny said. "We know we're missing big pieces ... so you can enjoy the fact you have excuses, or you can show character and double down, and that's what our guys are doing."
--Field Level Media