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Coyotes return home to host Columbus

by John Kreiser

BLUE JACKETS (4-8-2) at COYOTES (6-6-2)

TV: FS-Ohio; FS-Arizona

Last 10: Columbus 3-6-1; Phoenix 5-3-2

Season series: This is the Blue Jackets' second visit to the desert; they lost 5-1 on Jan. 23. The teams conclude their series in Columbus on March 16.

Big story: The Blue Jackets play the second of a six-game trip that got off to a slow start with a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles on Friday, their fourth loss in five games. The Coyotes are home after winning two of three games on a road trip that ended with a 3-0 loss at Nashville on Thursday.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: The first game since Jarmo Kekalainen was named as the team's new general manager wasn't a rousing success for the Jackets. They managed only 13 shots in the loss to Los Angeles, and were on the verge of being shut out before Nick Foligno scored with 2:25 left in regulation. Columbus put on plenty of pressure in the final 90 seconds after pulling goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky but managed only one more shot before the final buzzer.

"We didn't win a lot of battles tonight," coach Todd Richards said. "We spent too much time in the defensive zone. We didn't have the full commitment for 60 minutes."

Coyotes: Phoenix scored just three goals on its three-game trip, but still won twice behind the goaltending of Mike Smith, who beat San Jose 1-0 in a shootout and won 3-2 at Colorado before Thursday's loss to Nashville. Coach Dave Tippett is juggling lines and trying to find ways for his team to generate more offense -- the Coyotes had just 19 shots in the loss to the Predators.

"When you're not capitalizing on chances, you have to rely on your defending and goaltending too much. You're leaving a lot to chance," Tippett said Friday. "We have to bear down around the net more. We have to get more contributions from our lineup, and that will help us win just like strong defending helps us win."

Who's hot: Mark Letestu leads Columbus with five goals. … Smith is 2-1-0 in his last three starts while allowing just five goals.

Injury report: Columbus forward Artem Anisimov took a shot off the ankle on Friday and didn't return. The Blue Jackets said his foot wasn't broken but his status for Saturday is uncertain. Defenseman James Wisniewski missed Friday's game to be with his wife, who's home awaiting the birth of his first child. Defenseman John Moore (lower body) and forward Cam Atkinson (high ankle sprain) are day-to-day. … Coyotes defenseman Derek Morris left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury; he and fellow blueliner David Schlemko (upper body) are day-to-day. Center Matthew Lombardi (upper body) is weeks away from returning.

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