BLUE JACKETS (20-16-3) at COYOTES (17-13-8)
: Columbus 4-5-1; Phoenix 3-5-2.
: This is the first of four meetings between the teams. Phoenix went 3-1-0 against the Blue Jackets last season and outscored Columbus by an 11-6 margin.
: Neither team would make the playoffs if the season ended Monday, but both clubs are within striking distance. The Blue Jackets will enter Tuesday's action just two points behind No. 8 Colorado, while Phoenix -- which finished fourth in the Western Conference last season -- is three back.
: Columbus opened 2011 in disappointing fashion as it dropped a 4-1 decision at Nashville on Sunday. R.J. Umberger
scored 37 seconds into the game, but the Blue Jackets couldn't get another one past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne and Nashville scored three times in the second period.
"They just simplified things," Columbus defenseman Kris Russell
said. "They got pucks deep and really hounded our defense, and got on top of us and were physical."
: Phoenix was just 26 seconds away from earning two points in the standings on Sunday but had to settle for one as Pierre-Marc Bouchard erased a 5-4 deficit late in regulation before Cam Barker scored 46 seconds into overtime as the Coyotes dropped a 6-5 decision to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
"It's been an emotional roller coaster of late," defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "We get down and then we get back and take the lead. Then we kind of went sideways. There was a couple of unfortunate bounces. We'll take the point and try to get better."
: Umberger's first-period goal was his 62nd as a member of the Blue Jackets, tying him with Jason Chimera for fifth on the franchise's all-time list. He ranks second on the club this season with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists). … Coyotes captain Shane Doan
has a six-game point streak, while defenseman Keith Yandle
has notched a point in each of his last four contests.
: Both teams are boasting healthy lineups.
: The Blue Jackets' 4-1 loss at Nashville on Sunday marked their 15th consecutive loss in Tennessee, an 0-10-5 streak that dates back to April 3, 2006. … The Coyotes led the NHL with 17 overtime wins last season, but they are 2-8 in overtime in 2010-11.
: "I think we have a pretty good group of guys here. But we can't afford to slip because the West is so tight. We're disappointed we didn't get both points." -- Coyotes captain Shane Doan after Sunday's 6-5 overtime loss at Minnesota