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Coyotes aim to start new streak

by Mike G. Morreale
BLUE JACKETS (19-38-7) at COYOTES (33-22-9)

TV: FS-Ohio (HD), FS-Arizona (HD)

LAST 10: Blue Jackets 3-6-1, Coyotes 8-1-1

Season series: This will be the second of four meetings between the teams this season and the first of a home-and-home set -- the Coyotes will travel to Columbus on Tuesday. In their first game this season, Jan. 13, Derick Brassard had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 Blue Jackets 4-3 victory. Curtis Sanford made 32 saves in the win.

Big Story: The only thing on the line for the Blue Jackets with 18 games remaining in the regular season is pride and, perhaps, the future of interim coach Todd Richards. The Jackets added defenseman Jack Johnson before the trade deadline, but said good-bye to Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette, Samuel Pahlsson and Grant Clitsome. Prior to a 2-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, the Blue Jackets had been outscored 14-5 during a three-game losing streak and won just seven of their previous 31 road games.

"Seeing other teams smiling, seeing other teams in pretty good playoff position, makes me mad," forward Derek MacKenzie told the Columbus Dispatch. "It makes you feel like what you've done here isn't good enough. We know that April 7 is going to be our last day and that's a crappy feeling. But if we can channel that into something positive, that is going to be our biggest asset."

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Rick Nash has goals in four of the last six games, but the Blue Jackets have compiled a 2-3-1 mark in that stretch. Nash, who requested a trade because he wanted to help facilitate the rebuilding process the club plans to undertake, has a team-leading 22 goals, 44 points and 239 shots in 63 games this season.

Against the Avalanche on Thursday, defensemen Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin scored goals to back Mason's 33-save outing. It was his first shutout of the season and the 19th of his NHL career.

Coyotes: Miikka Kiprusoff made 29 saves and the Calgary Flames snapped a six-game winless skid in a 4-2 victory against the Coyotes on Thursday. The loss snapped the Coyotes' 11-0-1 run in the month of February. The Flames opened a 3-0 lead before second-period goals by Raffi Torres and Michal Rozsival cut the deficit to one for Phoenix.

"We pushed back a little bit, but ultimately when you don't deserve to win you usually don't win," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We passed to the other team instead of ours. They came in and were going to compete hard, and we just didn't put the work in to push back."

Who's Hot: Coyotes forward Ray Whitney, who has a team-leading 58 points, has 4 goals and 18 points in the last 15 games and at least one point in 13 of them. … Columbus forward Vinny Prospal has points in eight of the last 14 games, and has 2 goals and 11 points in that stretch.

Injury Report: The Blue Jackets are without Jared Boll (broken right foot). … In Phoenix, Gilbert Brule (upper body), Kyle Chipchura (wrist), Rostislav Klesla (upper body), Derek Morris (strained groin/personal) and David Schlemko (foot surgery) are out.

Stat Pack: Columbus has an NHL-low goal differential of minus-64; the New York Islanders are second-worst at minus-42.

Puck Drop:
Phoenix defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season and 63rd of his career at 3:48 of the second period in a loss to the Flames on Thursday. He also took four shots on goal and blocked two shots.
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