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Preview: Blue Jackets (3-2) at Coyotes (2-2)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: February 16, 2013 8:00 PM EDT
  

The Phoenix Coyotes just missed a chance to sweep a road trip.

They'll get two shots to get back into the win column before leaving the desert again.

Phoenix looks to rebound from its worst offensive performance of the season on Saturday night when it faces the league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets.

After posting victories over San Jose and Colorado, Phoenix (6-6-2) fired a season-low 19 shots and was blanked for the first time this season on Thursday, 3-0 to Nashville.

"We certainly had an opportunity to get six points on the trip, which would have been great," said coach Dave Tippett, whose club had won four of five.

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"We've got to rebound and get ready for Saturday night at home."

The Coyotes, who host Calgary on Monday before kicking off a three-game western Canada swing next Saturday in Edmonton, will host the Blue Jackets (4-8-2) for the final time this season.

Led by Steve Sullivan's eighth career hat trick and Oliver Ekman-Larsson's first three-point game (two goals, assist), Phoenix won 5-1 on Jan. 23 to avoid the franchise's first three-game slide to start the season since 1985-86 when it was based in Winnipeg.

Improved special teams play could help the Coyotes win for the eighth time in 10 home games in this series. Phoenix failed in all 12 chances with the man advantage on its trip.

"We have to find a way to get a little more movement and get some pucks and cash in," said Sullivan, who has scored once since recording his 17th, 18th and 19th career goals against Columbus on Jan. 23.

That could relieve some pressure from the Coyotes' defensive unit, which could be without Derek Morris, who left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. Morris is third on the team in minutes per game (21:16), trailing Ekman-Larsson (24:59) and fellow defenseman Keith Yandle (22:08).

If Mike Smith is in net for Phoenix, it will be his eighth consecutive start after missing the previous four with a lower-body injury suffered in the first period of the Jan. 23 contest.

The Blue Jackets were hoping to arrive in Glendale on the heels of their first set of back-to-back victories this season after defeating San Jose 6-2 on Monday. Instead, they're trying to bounce back after opening their six-game trip on Friday with a 2-1 loss to Los Angeles.

Columbus had a season-low 13 shots and now has four total goals while dropping four straight on the road. Nick Foligno's late goal on Friday helped the Blue Jackets avoid getting shut out for the second time, but scoring against Phoenix could be even more difficult if center Artem Anisimov can't go. He left Friday's game in the first period after getting hit in the foot/ankle area with the puck. Coach Todd Richards said there are no broken bones.

"That's an opportunity for other guys to step up and get some of his minutes," Brandon Dubinsky said. "Unfortunately, we didn't rally around that enough."

Former Coyote Adrian Aucoin (lower-body injury) came off the disabled list on Friday, but it's uncertain if defenseman James Wisniewski will be available on Saturday. He was in Columbus on Friday with his wife as they awaited the birth of their first child.

Steve Mason could get a second look at Phoenix this season after Sergei Bobrovsky lost his fourth consecutive start on Friday.

Mason made 37 saves on Jan. 23 after winning his previous three starts in this series.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
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