NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, January 29th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (26-21-2) at Columbus Blue Jackets (25-20-6), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will play a home game for the
first time in two weeks when the playoff hopefuls entertain the Phoenix
Coyotes tonight at Nationwide Arena in the second-half opener for both clubs.
The Blue Jackets should be welcoming the return to their home venue, since the
team has won a franchise-best six consecutive contests as the host. Columbus,
which owns a strong 16-6-4 home record this season, has not lost at Nationwide
Arena since a 3-1 setback to Nashville on December 23.
Columbus also has a two-game overall win streak, with both victories having
come on the road. After downing Dallas by a 4-2 score last Tuesday, the
Jackets posted a 1-0 decision over Chicago this past Thursday at the United
Pascal Leclaire recorded his league-leading eighth shutout of the season by
stopping all 30 shots he faced, while Jared Boll netted the game's only goal
just past the midway point of the second period.
Phoenix won its final two outings prior to the All-Star break as well, a 6-2
home triumph over Buffalo on January 21 followed by last Thursday's overtime
victory against visiting Nashville. Zbynek Michalek scored the deciding goal
with just 29 seconds remaining in the extra session.
Radim Vrbata registered his third career hat trick in the win and assisted on
Michalek's game-winner, while Steve Reinprecht had a pair of helpers to aid a
29-save performance from Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan contributed an assist to the winning effort and
extended his scoring streak to 10 games. The standout right wing has compiled
six goals and eight assists during the tear.
Phoenix will be starting up a five-game road trip this evening and has done
well as the visiting team this year, amassing a 15-10-0 away mark thus far.
However, the Coyotes have lost their last three matchups with Columbus,
including a 3-0 defeat at Nationwide Arena on October 10. Leclaire was the
star of that outing, as the rock-solid netminder turned away 32 Phoenix shots.
The Blue Jackets also posted a 4-3 win at Phoenix on January 17 on All-Star
Rick Nash's highlight-reel tiebreaking tally with only 21.5 seconds left in
01/29 10:42:05 ET