By Dave Vest GLENDALE -- The Coyotes will play their first home game of 2011 tonight when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
It will be Phoenix’s first appearance on home ice since it scored a season-high six goals in a 6-3 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 29. Since then, the Coyotes (17-13-8) have lost back-to-back road games at St. Louis and Minnesota.
Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal tonight for the Coyotes. Bryzgalov is 1-2-0 with a .861 save percentage in the three games he has played since coming back from an upper-body injury he suffered on Dec. 15 vs. New Jersey.
“I think he’s got to get back to that attitude where he’s going to compete hard on every shot and believes he’s going to stop every shot,” Coyotes Goaltending Coach Sean Burke said.
Meanwhile, Coyotes captain Shane Doan will look to continue his six-game scoring streak.
“We’ve got to get back to being better in our own zone and spending more time down low,” said Doan, whom the NHL named its No. 2 Star of the Week on Monday. “We’ll be OK if we just get back to keeping it simple."
► Click here to watch an interview Doan did with NHL Network on Monday.
Photo by Getty Images.
Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle and winger Ray Whitney, a former Blue Jacket, also have been contributing lately. Yandle has notched seven points in the past four games while Whitney has chipped in five points in the past four games.
Tonight’s game will be the first of four matches between these teams. Phoenix went 3-1-0 against the Blue Jackets last season and outscored Columbus 11-6 in those games.
The Blue Jackets (20-16-3) will enter the game just two points behind No. 8 Colorado in the Western Conference standings. The Coyotes are three points behind the Avs, whom they will play on Thursday night at the Pepsi Center.
Columbus, which ranks next to last in the NHL in power-play efficiency (12.2 percent), has lost eight of its past nine road games.
Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason has started the last four games. Should he start tonight, he will be seeking his first career victory over Phoenix. So far he’s 0-4-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average against the Coyotes.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan has notched at least one point in each of the past six games, and has scored five goals in the past four games.
Blue Jackets left wing RJ Umberger has scored a goal in three consecutive games and ranks second on the team with 27 points.
The Coyotes have held the Blue Jackets to two goals or less in each of the past 10 games the teams have played.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett and Blue Jackets Head Coach Scott Arniel were player-coaches together with Houston in the International Hockey League in 1994-95. Tonight's game pits them against each other for the first time as NHL head coaches.
This game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM). A link to the radio broadcast will be provided at phoenixcoyotes.com at 7 p.m.