NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, January 13th
(All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (20-17-7) at Columbus Blue Jackets (11-26-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes have been playing solid hockey as of
late for 65 minutes. It's the few minutes after that where the club has been
The Coyotes, losers of two straight shootouts, try to get back on track
tonight against the league's last-place club, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Phoenix has lost eight of its last 10 games, but has points in four straight.
Following an overtime loss at Los Angeles and a victory over the Islanders,
the Coyotes have dropped shootouts to the Rangers and Red Wings. The 3-2 loss
to Detroit came last night in the middle portion of a three-game road trip.
Radim Vrbata netted his team-leading 21st goal, Taylor Pyatt also scored and
Mike Smith made 40 saves. Phoenix is 11th overall in the West with 47 points,
three back of a playoff spot.
"We need two points in the standings every game we have from now on," said
Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett, who became the 39th coach in league history
to be on the bench for 700 games. "I thought we had a good effort out there
tonight and it's a shame we didn't get the two points."
The Coyotes have lost six of their last seven on the road and close out their
swing tonight in Columbus against a Blue Jackets club that has lost 10 of its
last 12 games and is last in the NHL with 27 points.
The Blue Jackets fired head coach Scott Arniel on Monday and dropped a 5-2
decision to the Blackhawks on Tuesday under interim head coach Todd Richards.
R.J. Umberger and Antoine Vermette scored the goals and Curtis Sanford gave up
four goals on 24 shots.
"There were some good things and some things we have to work on. Our defensive
zone, around the net, we gave up some easy goals there," said Richards. "It's
been a tough couple days but we hung in there. We're heading home and after a
day of rest and practice tomorrow will do us good for the weekend."
Columbus wrapped up a four-game road trip with only one win and will play its
next four at home. The Blue Jackets have lost four straight and seven of eight
Umberger extended his club record of 288 consecutive games played on Tuesday,
but that run will come to an end tonight after he left practice on Thursday
with concussion-like symptoms. Umberger took an elbow to the head at Anaheim
on Sunday, but played the entire game on Tuesday.
Umberger joins forward Jeff Carter (separated right shoulder) and defenseman
James Wisniewski (broken left ankle) on the sidelines.
The Coyotes and Blue Jackets are meeting for the first time this season after
Phoenix took three of four encounters a season ago. The Coyotes have won six
of seven and 10 of the last 12 meetings overall, but did have a six-game
winning streak at Columbus end in the last meeting there on Feb. 25, 2011.
01/13 10:50:47 ET
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