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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, October 28th (All times eastern)

Phoenix Coyotes (6-4-0) at Columbus Blue Jackets (6-4-0), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The troubled Phoenix Coyotes franchise announced some big news during their most recent game, but wound up losing that contest by a decisive margin.

The Coyotes will try to avoid a third straight loss tonight when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Phoenix was dealt a 5-2 loss by the New York Rangers Monday evening at Madison Square Garden, but the biggest news came in the middle of the game when it was announced that team owner Jerry Moyes agreed to sell the franchise to the National Hockey League.

The announcement came Monday during a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, but Judge Redfield T. Baum still must approve the transaction. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly released a statement Monday night about the pending deal and said if there is no objection the sale will hopefully be closed this Monday.

Moyes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May and Blackberry mogul Jim Balsillie made a pitch to buy the team and move it to Hamilton, Ontario, but the league wanted to purchase the team and seek out a buyer that would keep the Coyotes in Glendale. With the league taking over the club, Balsillie's dreams of placing an NHL club in Hamilton appears to be dead for now.

As for hockey, the Coyotes began the season with a surprising 6-2-0 record but have since dropped consecutive games and were outscored by a combined 10-5 margin in those recent setbacks.

Ed Jovanovski had a goal and an assist while Vernon Fiddler added a goal for the Coyotes in Monday's loss. Phoenix captain Shane Doan added an assist and has three goals and five helpers during a five-game point streak.

"Our power play really let us down," said Jovanovski. "They get two on their power play, we didn't get any on ours. That was the difference really in the game."

Ilya Bryzgalov started the game in net, but was pulled after allowing four goals on 11 shots. Jason LaBarbera finished the game between the pipes and gave up one goal on 13 shots. Bryzgalov, who is 6-3-0 on the year, is expected to get the start again tonight.

Tonight's test marks the middle portion of a three-game swing for Phoenix, which is 3-2-0 as the road team this year. The Coyotes will end the swing Thursday night in St. Louis.

The Blue Jackets have also struggled lately after a hot start to the season. Ken Hitchcock's club began the year 5-1-0, but has suffered losses in three of its last four trips to the ice. The slide came during a four-game road trip, but Columbus hopes to end the skid tonight when it returns to Nationwide Arena, where it is 3-0-0 so far this year.

The host Los Angeles Kings routed the Blue Jackets, 6-2, on Sunday as Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov each scored twice to lead the home club to the easy win at Staples Center.

Kristian Huselius and Antoine Vermette had the goals for Columbus, while Steve Mason allowed all six goals on just 25 shots. Vermette has seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) during a five-game point streak.

"We have a problem defending," Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock said. "It's something we're going to have to spend a lot of time on. Right now we're really playing poorly in our own zone. We're not committed there as a group."

Mason, last year's Calder Trophy winner, has given up 16 goals over his last three outings. The 21-year-old is 0-3-0 lifetime against Phoenix, but is still expected to get the start tonight.

The Blue Jackets played Sunday's game without Marc Methot, but the defenseman is expected to return from a foot injury tonight. Methot has three assists in nine games this year.

Columbus recorded a 2-0 road win over the Coyotes on October 10, ending a four-game slide against Phoenix. The Blue Jackets have still lost three in a row and four of their last five home tests against the Coyotes.

10/28 10:51:19 ET


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