By Dave Vest COLUMBUS – The Coyotes will try to avenge a shutout loss to Columbus in their home opener when they play the Blue Jackets again tonight at Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets are 3-0-0 on their home ice and have allowed just three goals in those games.
“We’ve got to get pucks behind them,” Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. “I don’t think they have the most mobile back end, but they’re a steady team so they’ll clog up the neutral zone and they’ll forecheck really hard. The best thing for us is to get it out quick and then get it in deep.”
The Coyotes will enter the game with a two-game losing streak, having been outscored 10-5 in defeats to Los Angeles and the New York Rangers.
Regarding the Blue Jackets, Phoenix Head Coach Dave Tippett said the Coyotes had better be prepared for a physical game.
“They are a big, heavy, hard team,” Tippett said. “They want to impose their will … and they try to impose their will around your net. So, if you’re not willing to compete in those areas you’re probably not going to be successful in the games. It’s just as simple as that.”
The Coyotes swept the Blue Jackets, four games to none, in 2008-09. Columbus, however, spoiled Phoenix’s “Welcome Back Whiteout” by blanking the Coyotes, 2-0, on Oct. 10 at Jobing.com Arena.
The Blue Jackets just returned to Columbus after going 1-3-0 on a four game trip. They gave up 22 goals.
Playing inspired hockey, Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski has notched three goals and four assists in the past five games. Two of his four goals this season have been game-winners.
Blue Jackets right wing Jakub Voracek, the seventh overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, has tallied four goals and assisted on two others in the past five games.
• Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett has not disclosed which goalie will be in net for Phoenix. With back-to-back road games today and Thursday in St. Louis, it is highly likely that backup Jason LaBarbera, who has started just one of Phoenix’s 10 games, will play tonight.
• Coyotes forward Peter Mueller has yet to score a goal this season playing with various linemates. He may play on a line with captain Shane Doan vs. the Blue Jackets. “Peter Mueller hasn't scored at the rate that we had hoped yet,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “...I think if he gets one (goal) he'll get going. “
Coyotes Assistant Coach Dave King is returning to Nationwide Arena for the first time since 2003. King was the first head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets when they entered the NHL in 2000-01. He spent two and a half seasons as head coach and laid the groundwork for today's Blue Jackets, who first qualified for the NHL playoffs last season.
"(Rick) Nash plays hard and finishes every check, and that goes all the way down through their four lines and their six d-men. They play hard."