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Coyotes chase another victory in Columbus

by Eric Goodman /
COYOTES (33-20-9) at BLUE JACKETS (30-23-6)

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

Last 10 --
Phoenix 8-2-0; Columbus 7-2-1

Season series --
This is the third of four meetings between Phoenix and Columbus. The Coyotes have won nine of their last 10 against the Jackets, including both previous games this season.

Big story --
Phoenix can probably start calling Columbus its second home as the 'Yotes have been absolutely dominant at Nationwide Arena recently. If the Coyotes can reel off a victory Friday, it would mark the seventh straight win for them in Columbus. Meanwhile, the Jackets will seek to establish a three-game winning streak and attempt to inch their way up the ever-tightening Western Conference playoff race in the process.

Team Scope:

Coyotes -- Phoenix had won eight in a row before falling 8-3 at Tampa Bay on Wednesday. While captain Shane Doan had set the Coyotes' franchise record for games played that night with 1,099 total appearances for Phoenix and its predecessor, the Winnipeg Jets, there was very little else to celebrate as his team fell behind 7-0 over the first period and a half.

"For us to come out and hang (goalie Jason LaBarbera) out to dry like we did, it was unfortunate and disappointing," Doan told reporters following the game.

Blue Jackets --
Columbus sits just four points out of a playoff spot but still has four teams between it and eighth place. It will be a tough hill to climb if the Jackets expect to make the postseason for just the second time in franchise history, but they can get there with regulation wins over teams that sit directly above them in the standings.

Wednesday's 4-0 victory over Nashville Predators was exactly the type of effort Columbus needs to replicate down the stretch. Captain Rick Nash scored twice, giving him a club-leading 29 goals, while goalie Steve Mason made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season.

"The whole game had a playoff atmosphere to it - the first two periods were kind of a slugfest," coach Scott Arniel said following the game.

Who's hot --
Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has won his last eight starts for the 'Yotes, posting a 1.63 goals against average over that span. … Nash has a five-game point streak for the Jackets, with 5 goals and 5 assists over that span.

Injury report -- Coyotes defensemen Ed Jovanovski (orbital bone) is on IR while Adrian Aucoin and Ray Whitney remain questionable with their injuries. … Forward Derek Dorsett returned to the Jackets' lineup Wednesday after missing three games with a head injury, but forward Kristian Huselius was scratched with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla (knee) and Derick Brassard (hand) remain on injured reserve for Columbus, while defenseman Marc Methot missed Wednesday's game with an undisclosed injury.

Stat pack --
The eight goals surrendered to Tampa Bay on Wednesday was a season high for the 'Yotes, but they gave up just 13 goals over their eight straight wins prior to that.

Puck drop --
Arniel is very excited about his Blue Jackets being in a fight for the final few playoff spots in the West and he knows this type of high-pressure atmosphere is exactly the motivation his players need down the stretch.

"You have to love this time of year," Arniel said. "The intensity around the League. You're watching everybody and everybody is on pins and needles, jockeying for (playoff) spots. It's what the players live to play for."

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