Season series: Third and final meeting of the regular season. The first two went to the Coyotes in Phoenix. Steve Sullivan recorded a hat trick in a 5-1 win on Jan. 23, while Martin Hanzal scored a pair of third-period goals to spark a 5-3 victory on Feb. 16.
Big story: Even when they aren't winning, these days the Blue Jackets are picking up points. They're looking to extend a franchise record streak (5-0-4) to double digits by earning at least a point in a 10th consecutive game on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Coyotes are looking to rebound from a 3-0 loss to St. Louis on Thursday in the first of four straight road games.
Coyotes: This is the second stop on a somewhat odd four-game road trip for Phoenix that will end in Los Angeles with games against the Kings on consecutive nights at Staples Center. The Coyotes began their journey Thursday in St. Louis and couldn't find a way to beat Jake Allen, who handed them a 3-0 loss and picked up his first NHL shutout in the process. The Coyotes got four shots apiece from Lauri Korpikoski and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who signed a six-year contract on Friday.
“It feels great,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I'm really excited. It's a big day for me and my parents. I'm real excited to stay for six more years... I really like the team we have here in Phoenix."
Forward Steve Sullivan has thrived against the Blue Jackets throughout his 16-year NHL career. He has registered 19 goals and 31 assists in 49 career games vs. Columbus.
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla, the first draft pick in Columbus Blue Jackets history, will play in his 100th game with the Coyotes today. He has notched five goals and 12 assists in 99 games with Phoenix.
MIke Smith is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes, who are just 3-6-2 on the road this season.
Blue Jackets: A five-game winning streak has given way to back-to-back losses for Columbus, but perhaps the best sign this Blue Jackets team may be starting to turn the corner is the players no longer seem satisfied just to get a consolation point. And while they still haven't broken through against the Blackhawks in four tries this season, the Jackets took the Western Conference's top team past regulation for a second straight meeting Thursday in what ended a 2-1 shootout defeat. All four of their losses to the Hawks have come by a single goal.
"It could have gone either way tonight," said Derick Brassard who set up Jack Johnson's power-play goal in the second period. "It was a tough shootout there for us. We battled for 65 minutes [and] I think we played a good game.
"We need to find a way to win those games because those points are really important."
Who's hot: Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle is first among all NHL defensemen with 81 shots on goal. ... Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant again Thursday, stopping 39 of 40 shots over 65 minutes. Over his past seven starts he's 5-0-2 and has allowed one goal or fewer six times, including two shutouts.
Injury report: Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower-body injury) is out. Forward Radim Vrbata (lower-body injury) is on injured reserve. … Columbus activated defenseman John Moore (upper-body injury) on Friday, while forward Derek MacKenzie (upper-body injury) is day-to-day. Forward Derek Dorsett (collarbone) and defensemen Ryan Murray (shoulder) and James Wisniewski (foot) are on injured reserve.
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