NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, January 17th (All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (22-18-6) at Phoenix Coyotes (24-20-1), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Blue Jackets have been red-hot at home as of late. Unfortunately, Columbus begins a five-game road trip tonight with a visit to Phoenix and Jobing.com Arena to tangle with the Coyotes.
The Blue Jackets defeated Vancouver, 3-2, on Tuesday to post their franchise- best sixth straight home win. Columbus is 16-6-4 at home this year, but just 6-12-2 as the road club.
Columbus has lost five of its last six on the road and will also play in Dallas twice, Colorado and Chicago on its current trip.
Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist versus the Canucks to give him three goals and two helpers in his last three games.
Ron Hainsey and Jason Chimera also scored, and Pascal Leclaire made 25 saves for Columbus, which has won three straight games overall. Leclaire has won six of his last seven decisions and is second in the NHL with a 2.00 goals-against average. He also leads the league with seven shutouts, with one of those coming on October 10 against Phoenix.
Leclaire is 3-2-0 with a 2.41 GAA in five career starts against the Coyotes. He made 32 saves when shutting out the Coyotes at home earlier this year, Columbus' second straight win over Phoenix.
The Blue Jackets have also won five of their last eight meetings with Phoenix.
The Coyotes kicked off a five-game homestand on Tuesday with a 5-3 victory over San Jose, the club's season-high fourth straight win as the host.
Shane Doan had two goals and an assist, giving him five goals and nine helpers over the last eight games he has played in. Rookie Peter Mueller totaled a career-high three assists while Ed Jovanovski had a career-high four points on a goal and three helpers for the surging Coyotes, who have won seven of their last nine games.
Ilja Bryzgalov made 21 saves in the win for Phoenix, which is 9-10-1 at home this year and will also host Chicago, Buffalo and Nashville on this residency.
Phoenix, though, did lead losing goal scorer Radim Vrbata in the first period with a groin injury. He is tops on the club with 18 goals, but is out for tonight.
Steven Reinprecht leads all Phoenix skaters with 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 20 career games against Columbus, but is questionable for tonight's game because of neck spasms.
Doan has nine goals and 10 assists in 25 career tests versus the Blue Jackets.
Columbus has won two straight and five of the last eight meetings with the Coyotes.
01/17 10:45:25 ET