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COYOTES DROP 5-1 CONTEST TO COLUMBUS

by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes
By: Chad Lynch

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau

On Monday, the Coyotes dropped a 5-1 contest to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first game of their current four game road trip.

The first period had a bit of a rocky start for the Coyotes, as forward Dave Scatchard was placed in the penalty box just 37-seconds into the contest for hooking. Working with the extra attacker, the Blue Jackets would need only 24-seconds to make a mark on the scoreboard as a shot from Columbus sniper Rick Nash was stopped by Coyotes goaltender Mike Morrison, but the rebound was grabbed by Nikolai Zherdev, who beat Morrison on a second shot for a 1-0 lead.

Phoenix had a pair of chances to tie the score over the next five minutes with the Blue Jackets taking a pair of penalties. While the Coyotes were doing a good job of moving the puck around on the man-advantage, all of their drives to the net were stopped by Columbus netminder Pascal LeClaire.

The Coyotes blueline took a hit early in the game when defenseman Keith Ballard left the ice after suffering a hand injury. After heading to the locker room it was determined that Ballard would not return to the game, leaving Phoenix with only five defensemen for the remainder of the contest.

With 11:16 to play in the opening period, the Blue Jackets nearly added to their lead when right wing David Vborny raced into the Coyotes zone, made his way behind the Phoenix defenders and snapped a shot off the post. After the puck made its way into the corner, the Coyotes quickly picked it up and cleared the zone.

At 9:21 of the first, the Coyotes were able to tie the game at 1-1 when Shane Doan circled around the back of the net and spotted an open Ed Jovanovski in the slot. Once he received the pass, Jovanovski blasted the puck into the net for his first goal of the season and as a member of the Coyotes.

Late in the period, Coyotes forward Josh Gratton and the Blue Jackets Manny Malhotra made their first trips to the box for roughing and hooking respectively. As a result, the teams finished out the final 1:08 of the first period with four-on-four hockey. The Blue Jackets had a quality scoring chance with 30-seconds to play in the period as Rick Nash broke free for a breakaway, but was stopped on the doorstep by Morrison. Morrison's heroics in net would keep the game tied at 1-1 as the first period of play came to a close.

Shortly after the second period got underway, the Coyotes found themselves on the power play when Alexander Svitov assessed a minor penalty for tripping. With the extra attacker, the Coyotes completely dominated the play in the Blue Jackets zone. Over the course of the two minutes, the Coyotes moved the pucks around perimeter and registered a four shots on goal. However, LeClaire was again in perfect position and able hold off the Coyotes offensive attack and keep Phoenix from taking their first lead of the night.

The Coyotes would make their first trip to the penalty box during the second period when defenseman Derek Morris was called for cross-checking after he made contact with Svitov, causing the Blue Jackets forward to go sailing into the boards. Even with the extra attacker, the Blue Jackets were unable to get the puck past Morrison as the Coyotes returned to full strength, still tied 1-1.

At 9:43 of the second period the Coyotes were whistled for too-many-men on the ice. A minute later, Phoenix would find themselves on the short end of a five-on-three advantage when Jeremy Roenick was called for hooking. The Blue Jackets used the two-man advantage to retake the lead at 11:08 of the second when Nash, who was positioned at the top of the crease, made a deflection on a feed from Vyborny that jumped over the right shoulder of Morrison and into the net to make it a 2-1 game.

Phoenix kill off the remainder of the penalty to Roenick, but just seven seconds after they returned to full strength, Columbus scored to take a two-goal lead. Once again Nash led the charge for the Blue jackets as he raced in along the left hand board and slid a pass to the side of the net where Zherdev re-directed the puck into the net, making it a 3-1 game.

The Coyotes had a scoring opportunity later in the period as Owen Nolan raced into the Columbus zone, fought off a poke-check and got a shot off, with just five seconds left on the clock, but LeClaire made the stop to preserve the 3-1 lead after 40-minutes of play.

The final period of play began with the Blue Jackets adding to their lead when Columbus forward Anson Carter sent a backhand shot to the net that deflected off of Jovanovski and into the Coyotes net to make it a 4-1 game.

The Coyotes went back on the power play at 4:56 of the third with Anson Carter being called for hooking. With the Coyotes in the midst of a fierce offensive attack, the Blue Jackets took another penalty, this time to Fredrik Modin for tripping. Phoenix then found themselves with a two-man advantage for 30 seconds but were again unable to solve LeCalaire and Columbus held on to their three goal lead.

The Coyotes frustrations continued to mount as the club received their second penalty for too-many-men on the ice at 8:44 of the third. Less than a minute later, Derek Morris was sent back to the box for hooking. Phoenix would be able to kill off the first infraction, but would be unable to do the same with the penalty to Morris as the Blue Jackets' defenseman Duvie Westcott snapped a shot from the slot that found its way through traffic and into the net for a 5-1 Columbus lead.

Phoenix would receive a late power play, but the Blue Jackets defense was able to kill off the infraction and run out the final seconds on the clock as the Coyotes dropped the first game of their four game road trip 5-1.

BALLARD OUT 4-5 WEEKS
During the first period of Monday night's game in Columbus, Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard sustained a hand injury after blocking a shot. Ballard is expected to miss the next 4-5 weeks.

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