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Coyotes beat struggling Blue Jackets 5-3

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE, Ariz.Martin Hanzal had eight goals in 64 injury-plagued games last season, and the Phoenix Coyotes missed the production from his power game around the net.

Hanzal has been a constant presence in the crease this season, and the results are showing.

Hanzal ended an 0-for-17 Phoenix power-play drought by sweeping home his own rebound in the crease 8:18 into the third period to break a tie, then added an empty-netter as the Coyotes beat the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 at Arena on Saturday night.

Hanzal has played only 11 games this season but leads the team with seven goals; he has 10 points after Saturday's three-point night. The Coyotes have won five of seven and are 6-2-2 after a 1-4-0 start.

"I played [in the Czech Republic] during the lockout and was able to stay in shape," Hanzal said. "I'm playing the same way but for sure there have been some more chances. We knew it was a must-win tonight. We needed to win this game because we lost in Nashville and every losing streak can hurt you a lot."

Keith Yandle added three assists to tie a career high and Steve Sullivan had two – the first was the 450th of his career, the second his 50th career point in 49 career games against Columbus. Phoenix cashed in on only one of seven power-play chances, but it was enough to win.

The Blue Jackets, who played without center Artem Anisimov and defenseman James Wisniewski and lost forward Brandon Dubinsky during the game, lost for the second time in as many nights to start a six-game road trip and have won just once in their last six games.

"We ran out of gas and it doesn't help when you have to kill seven times," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "Missing [Anisimov and Wisniewski] and with Dubie not coming back … those are tough shoes to fill."

Hanzal was standing two feet from the net when he got the tic-tac-toe pass from Yandle and Sullivan. He put his first shot off the post before collecting and stuffing home the rebound to put Phoenix ahead for the third and final time.

"Goals were few and far between on the road and then tonight they came in abundance," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We expected a tighter game but when that happens you've got to adapt."

Jared Boll, Matt Calvert and Derek MacKenzie scored in the first 40 minutes for Columbus and David Moss, Radim Vrbata and Kyle Chipchura matched for Phoenix. Vrbata, who leads Phoenix with 12 points, left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return.

Steve Mason made 30 saves for Columbus, while Mike Smith made 17 saves for his fifth win of the season.

The Coyotes, who scored just three goals on the three-game road trip they completed with Thursday's 3-0 loss at Nashville, had three in the first 17:40 on Saturday -- and nine different players got on the scoresheet. They did it despite coming up empty on three power-play chances.

The Blue Jackets scored on their first shot just 2:07 into the game when Boll flipped a puck from the half boards toward the Phoenix net and it deflected off the skate of Hanzal and past a surprised Smith.

The Coyotes didn't have a shot in the first five minutes but cashed in on their first chance. Mikkel Boedker's shot on the rush was stopped by Mason, but Moss -- coming out of the box after serving a hooking penalty -- crashed the crease and put home the rebound at 5:30 for his second goal of the season and first point in seven games.

Phoenix took the lead 1:30 lead later when Vrbata settled down Hanzal's saucer pass and ripped it past Mason for his first goal in seven games. But Phoenix's lead lasted all of a minute until Calvert and Nick Foligno came in 2-on-1 on Smith. Calvert held the puck and beat Smith with a shot off the post at 8:00 to tie it.

The Coyotes scored the fifth goal of the period and regained the lead at 17:40 on a nice play by ex-Blue Jacket Raffi Torres, who won a puck battle in the neutral zone and fed a speeding Yandle in stride. Yandle teed up Chipchura in the slot for a one-time that beat Mason cleanly for his first goal to cap a wild first 20 minutes.

Columbus kept coming and pulled even 5:16 of the second on a pretty play by two players who had three combined points this season. MacKenzie flattened Torres at the Columbus blue line, stole, fed Boll and kept skating for a return pass up the slot. MacKenzie kept his shot on the ice and it skidded past Smith to make it 3-3.

That's the way it stayed until Fedor Tyutin's interference penalty finally cost Columbus.

"We've had times when we were good and time where we took a twist," Boll said. "We didn't play a full 60 minutes [Friday or Saturday], and it cost us two games."

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