Skip to main content


Coyotes-Blue Jackets Preview @NHL

Pascal Leclaire couldn't have played much better in his first start.

He looks for another strong effort in net while helping the Columbus Blue Jackets try to open with two straight home wins for the first time since 2003-04 on Wednesday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Leclaire made 28 saves in a 4-0 home victory over defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim on Friday. He's expected to be in goal Wednesday after sitting out Columbus' 3-2 loss at Minnesota on Saturday.

"I think early, the first 20 games, everyone knows how important points are, and how critical it is to get off to a good start," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Leclaire already matched his shutout total from last season when he played just 24 games because of lower body and knee injuries. He could be in store for another successful night if the Blue Jackets' continue their solid special teams play.

Columbus (1-1-0) was 1-for-2 on the power play against the Wild after going 3-for-11 with the man advantage against the Ducks. The Blue Jackets also have fared well short-handed, killing off all 11 of their opponents' power-play chances.

Defensemen Ron Hainsey scored his second goal and Nikolai Zherdev had two assists against Minnesota, but the Blue Jackets were outshot 31-21, including 13-6 in the third period when the Wild scored twice.

"That's why I was disappointed for us," Hitchcock said. "Back to back we had the game that we wanted but we made some errors and they ended up in our net."

Rick Nash was held without a point after recording two goals and two assists against Anaheim. He had four goals and five assists as the Blue Jackets went 2-1-1 versus the Coyotes in 2006-07.

Michael Peca is expected to make his Blue Jackets debut in this contest after missing the first two games with back spasms. Peca had just 13 goals and 25 assists over his last two seasons with Edmonton and Toronto before signing as a free agent with Columbus.

While the Blue Jackets have excelled in special-teams play, Phoenix (1-1-0) would like to improve in that area after going 0-for-9 on the power play in its first two games, while allowing its opponents to score on three of seven chances with the man advantage.

The Coyotes allowed two power-play goals in a 3-1 loss to Boston on Saturday. Phoenix outshot the Bruins 37-24 including 12-5 in the final period.

"I like the way we were shooting pucks to the net but we have to capitalize on our power play," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We've got our work cut out for us."

Four players have scored goals for Phoenix, which posted 3-2 season-opening win over St. Louis on Thursday. Veteran Shane Doan, the Coyotes' leading scorer from a year ago, has an assist in each game and had two goals and an assist against Columbus last season.

Phoenix will play its first road game Wednesday. The Coyotes were 13-26-2 on the road in 2006-07 and are looking to avoid an eighth straight loss away from home.

View More