BLUE JACKETS 3 | COYOTES 6
Jack Skille Post Game
Todd Richards Post Game
Ryan Johansen Goal
ANALYSIS: Things appeared to be turning around for the Blue Jackets in the second period, but again, they came unraveled late in the frame and it's going to require a big third period to make this interesting. Columbus trails 4-2 but held a 2-1 lead midway through the hockey game after back-to-back goals from Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski (PPG), before yielding three unanswered goals to the Coyotes - two of those coming 44 seconds apart late in the second. The Blue Jackets have been out of sync at times and haven't managed the puck well, and it's given the Coyotes plenty of time in the offensive zone and opportunities to make plays off the rush. Shots are 28-18 in favor of Arizona.
Fedor Tyutin Goal
James Wisniewski Goal
ANALYSIS: Well, that's a first period that the Blue Jackets will crumble up and throw in the garbage. The first 8-10 minutes were a good start but Arizona took over later in the period, and scored the opening goal on a hot rebound off the end boards following a turnover in the Columbus defensive end. Tobias Rieder has the lone tally so far, but the Blue Jackets have had a couple of chances, including a 2-on-1 led by Brandon Dubinsky that was turned away by Mike Smith. The Blue Jackets power play had one chance in the first and registered three shots, but didn't have a real threat either on the man advantage or 5-on-5. At the risk of understating the obvious, they'll need to spend a lot more time in the offensive zone in the second period - and with 1:47 left on the power play, there will be a chance to do just that. Shots are 11-8 Arizona.
UPDATE (1:25 PM): Blue Jackets' television analyst Jody Shelley confirms there will be no other changes in the lineup tonight for Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in net for the Jackets and the defense pairings will be the following...
UPDATE (1:05 PM): The Blue Jackets are holding an optional morning skate today in Glendale. According to The Dispatch, the Jackets will dress the same forward lines as they did against the Wild on Wednesday, but with one exception. Sean Collins is expected in the lineup tonight, skating in place of Adam Cracknell.
Here are the expected lines for tonight...
UPDATE (12:20 PM): Coyotes beat reporter Sarah McLellan reports that Devan Dubnyk is the only goalie on the ice for Arizona's optional morning skate, suggesting that Mike Smith is resting up for the start in goal tonight for the Coyotes.
It's the first CBJ game day of 2015!
The Blue Jackets kick off the New Year with their second western road trip of the season this evening when they battle the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. The Jackets will take on the Coyotes, the Avalanche, the Stars, and the Maple Leafs before they return to Nationwide Arena on Jan. 10.
The Coyotes sit 13th in the Western Conference, but have played better of late with three wins in their last four games. The Coyotes rank 25th in the NHL in goals per game and 27th in goals against. Even with goals hard to come by, a familiar face for Jackets' fans is having another strong season and leading the way offensively for Arizona. Antoine Vermette leads Arizona in scoring with 25 points, including five power play goals.
Here are a few other tidbits as we get ready for the first tilt of the new year:
- After a difficult November for the Blue Jackets (2-9-2), Todd Richards said he didn't view the calendar's switch to December as a clean slate or a fresh start. So naturally, the Blue Jackets would go on to post a 10-1-1 record during December and climb back into the playoff hunt. With today's contest, there's a new month and the Jackets hope to maintain their December pace. January was kind to Columbus last season, when the Jackets were 10-4-0.
- The Jackets had a good December as a team, but an individual who would like to maintain his torrid pace is defenseman Kevin Connauton. Connauton has goals in three of the last four games and six points total over that stretch. Connauton will see some old friends during the road trip when the Jackets meet his former team in Dallas on Tuesday. The Jackets would love his hot streak to extend at least that long.
- The Coyotes are used to getting top-notch goaltending from 2014 Olympian Mike Smith, but that hasn't been the case this season. Devan Dubnyk has played well as the starter since then, but he did surrender six goals in the last game against the Stars. It will be interesting to see who the Coyotes send out between the pipes to match against the Blue Jackets, who are playing the first game of back-to-backs.
- Richards said it's possible that Curtis McElhinney gets a start this weekend, but we'll know after the morning skate whether he or Sergei Bobrovsky starts tonight in Glendale.