Coyotes-Blue Jackets Preview
The turn of the calendar to March hasn’t been kind to the
The visiting Coyotes will try to avoid a four-game slide Tuesday
night as well as a third defeat to the lowly Columbus Blue
Phoenix (33-24-9) went 11-0-1 in February to gain the Pacific
Division lead but has dropped all three games in March. The Coyotes
are still tied with Dallas for first place, with San Jose two
points back and Los Angeles three.
Captain Shane Doan felt his club’s effort in Monday’s 2-1 defeat
at Pittsburgh was better than it was in home losses last week to
Calgary and Columbus (20-38-7). The Coyotes outshot the Penguins
25-17 over the final two periods.
“The last two games we weren’t very happy, and tonight we played
closer to where we need to and if we play like that, we like our
chances,” Doan said. “We just got to find ways to bury the
Phoenix has lost both times it has faced Columbus, which is
seeking its first three-game win streak since Feb. 18-25, 2011. The
Blue Jackets have not played since Saturday’s 5-2 road win over the
Coyotes, outscoring them 3-0 in the third period.
“They’re a team that’s in the race that wants to make the
playoffs,” Columbus captain Rick Nash said. “It’s tough when you
play teams back to back, they’re going to be coming out full steam
and it should be another fun game.”
Nash, who had requested a trade from the league’s worst team,
has three goals and one assist in the season series after a
spectacular performance in Arizona on Saturday. He had a
short-handed goal, one at even strength and an assist on Derick
“He’s our captain, he’s our best player,” Brassard said.
“Hopefully he’s going to stick around us next year. I don’t know
what’s going to happen but from what I see right now he’s just a
guy who wants to play and show us the way.”
The Coyotes fell behind after one period in that contest and
have conceded the first goal in six of their last seven games.
“We’ve been chasing the game it seems every single night from
the last four or five,” Doan said. “The last three cost us.”
Mike Smith lost his third straight start Monday after winning
his previous 11. He’s surrendered 11 goals in dropping three in a
row to Columbus while backup Jason LaBarbera has a career 1.70
goals-against average versus the Blue Jackets.
Steve Mason has won consecutive games for the first time this
season after his 30-save effort Saturday. He has earned victories
in his last two starts against the Coyotes after dropping his first
Former Blue Jackets winger Ray Whitney scored for the fourth
time in five games Monday and continues to lead the Coyotes with 60
points. Antoine Vermette has no points in his first six games with
Phoenix ahead of his return to Nationwide Arena for the first time
since being acquired from Columbus on Feb. 22.