NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, April 8th
(All times Eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (36-28-14) at Columbus Blue Jackets (40-31-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams fighting for playoff spots in opposing
conferences meet in Ohio on Tuesday when the Columbus Blue Jackets welcome the
Phoenix Coyotes to Nationwide Arena.
Of the two teams, only Columbus is currently in postseason position as it
holds the second of the Eastern Conference's two wild card spots with 87
points through 78 games. That leaves the Blue Jackets three ahead of New
Jersey and Toronto with a game in hand over both teams. The Maple Leafs visit
Tampa Bay on Tuesday, while the Devils are idle.
Columbus also is only two points behind Philadelphia for the third of the
Metropolitan Division's three automatic bids to the playoffs. The Flyers, who
also have four games left, are visiting the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Phoenix, meanwhile, is one point in back of Dallas for the West's second wild
card spot with four games left for both teams. The Stars also play Tuesday
against the visiting Nashville Predators, who are six points behind Dallas and
still technically in playoff contention.
The Blue Jackets picked up a valuable two points in their last trip to the
ice, while Phoenix is currently mired in a costly four-game losing streak.
Columbus, which is hosting its final game of the regular season tonight, used
a potent power play on Sunday to bounce back from a deflating loss in its
The Blue Jackets converted on 3-of-6 opportunities with the man advantage in a
4-0 home win over the New York Islanders, two days after losing Friday's 4-3
regulation decision against visiting Chicago. Columbus failed to gain a point
on Friday after the Blackhawks scored the winning goal in the waning seconds
Boone Jenner, Jack Johnson and Ryan Murray each record power-play goals on
Sunday, while Mark Letestu added an even strength tally. Sergei Bobrovsky made
31 saves in his career-high 29th win of the season.
"This is a huge win," Columbus forward Matt Calvert said. "We needed these two
points badly. Our power play came up big and (Bobrovsky) was great."
The Blue Jackets are 21-15-4 as the home team this season and had lost three
straight (0-2-1) at Nationwide Arena before Sunday's victory. Columbus will
visit Dallas, Tampa Bay and Florida to complete its regular-season slate.
The Coyotes fell to 0-2-2 over their last four outings with Friday's 3-2
shootout loss against visiting Edmonton. Phoenix carried a 2-1 lead into the
closing minutes of regulation before allowing Sam Gagner to tie it up with
40.4 seconds left in the third.
Gagner later scored the only goal of the shootout to lift the Oilers to the
Oliver Ekman-Larsson picked up a goal and one assist and Kyle Chipchura also
tallied for the Coyotes, while Thomas Greiss made 24 saves in the loss.
"We let a point slip away," said Chipchura. "I thought we came out a little
Phoenix begins a two-game road trip tonight and also will visit Nashville on
Thursday before capping the regular season this weekend on a two-game
homestand. The Coyotes welcome San Jose on Saturday before hosting Dallas the
following night in a potentially crucial game for the West's second wild card
The Coyotes are 21-13-5 at home this season and 15-15-9 as the guest.
Columbus notched a 2-0 win at Phoenix on Jan. 2, giving the Blue Jackets two
straight wins in this series following a three-game slide versus the Coyotes.
Phoenix has lost four in a row in Columbus, where it hasn't won since a 4-3
regulation victory on Jan. 11, 2011.
04/08 10:54:53 ET