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Coyotes seek to rebound versus Blue Jackets

Feb 25, 2011 - 4:04 PM
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes had their longest winning streak of the season snapped in blowout fashion on Wednesday, but Dave Tippett's club will try to rebound when it visits the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena.

The Coyotes had won eight in a row prior to dropping an 8-3 decision in Tampa. It was the first setback for Phoenix since also getting slammed, 6-0, by Vancouver on Feb. 2.

The loss came at a bad time for the Coyotes, who were knocked out of first place in the Pacific Division after San Jose defeated Pittsburgh on Wednesday. The Sharks, who will play in Calgary tonight, are just one point ahead of Phoenix for the Pacific lead.

Phoenix figures to have a good chance at getting back in the win column tonight, considering its recent history against the Blue Jackets. The Coyotes have won both games against the Blue Jackets this season and have taken five straight and nine out of 10 overall.

The Coyotes have also won six in a row and seven of their last eight trips to Ohio.

Columbus, meanwhile, will aim for a third straight victory tonight. The Blue Jackets, who are four points out of a playoff spot in the West, have also gone five in a row (4-0-1) without a regulation loss.

Teddy Purcell recorded his first career hat trick and Vincent Lecavalier had five points to lead the Lightning to Wednesday's rout of the Coyotes. Tampa Bay led 5-0 after the first period and wound up scoring the game's first seven goals.

Phoenix goaltender Jason LaBarbera gave Ilya Bryzgalov a rare night off and allowed every Lightning goal on 39 shots. LaBarbera started for the first time since Jan. 10.

"Sometimes a game like this slaps you in the face, gets you back to reality a little bit," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett. "You just have to recognize there's some challenges ahead."

Shane Doan, who became the Coyotes' all-time leader in games played by skating in his 1,099th career contest with the franchise, had an assist.

Bryzgalov will be back in net tonight for Phoenix and he'll try to extend his personal win streak to nine games. The Russian backstop is 8-4-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average in his career against Columbus.

Coyotes forward Ray Whitney sat out the last two games for Phoenix and is questionable for tonight with his lower-body injury. Fellow forward Scottie Upshall will miss this evening's tilt to serve the final part of a two-game suspension.

Phoenix, which will complete a five-game road trip Sunday in Chicago, has a solid 18-10-4 road record this season.

The Blue Jackets recorded an impressive victory over the visiting Nashville Predators on Tuesday, as Rick Nash scored twice and Steve Mason stopped all 20 shots to record his third shutout of the season in the 4-0 win.

Columbus tallied four times in the third period to down its Central Division rivals and improve its record at Nationwide Arena to 15-13-2.

Matt Calvert and Antoine Vermette also lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets, who have gone 7-1-1 in their last nine contests. Kris Russell had a pair of assists for the victors.

Mason also blanked Nashville on Nov. 22 and now has 18 shutouts for his career. The goaltender improved to 6-1-0 in his last seven starts and is expected to get the call in net tonight.

"I think everything is coming around at the right time," Mason said about his recent play.

Next up for Columbus will be another test against the Predators, as the Blue Jackets begin a five-game road trip Saturday in Nashville.