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Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM
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Phoenix Coyotes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

The Skinny
By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will wrap up a three-game trip tonight when they play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).

Phoenix (20-17-7) will enter the game less than 24 hours after losing, 3-2 in a shootout, to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

"We need two points in the standings every game we have from now on," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "I thought we had a good effort out there (on Thursday) and it's a shame we didn't get the two points."

The Coyotes, who have notched at least one point in four straight games, have won six of the past seven games played against the Blue Jackets. Tonight's game is the first of four between the clubs this season.

Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes with 21 goals. Only five other NHL players have scored more goals than Vrbata, who has eyes set on passing his career-high 27 goals in a season set in 2007-08.

The Coyotes will play the game with just six defensemen on the roster after assigning David Rundblad to the American Hockey League on Friday morning. Rundblad played in just two games for the Coyotes after being acquired in a trade that sent center Kyle Turris to the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 17.

The Blue Jackets (11-26-5) have lost 10 of their past 12 games and are last in the NHL with just 27 points.

Photo by Getty Images.
Tonight’s game will be the first for interim Head Coach Todd Richards on home ice. Columbus fired former head coach Scott Arniel on Monday and then lost, 5-2, at Chicago on Tuesday in Richards’ debut behind the bench.

"It's going to be a challenge," Richards told reporters after taking the job. "It's not me, it's everyone. It's the other coaches in the room and the players... We're all in this together. There's work ahead of us."

Left wing Vinny Prospal has a team-high 30 points for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight home games.

Left wing R.J. Umberger, who holds the franchise record of 288 consecutive games played, will miss his first game since the 2007-08 season tonight after suffering an upper-body injury at Anaheim on Jan. 8.
Who's Hot
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has given up just five non-shootout goals and has posted a .963 save percentage in his past four starts.
Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Johnson has notched three assists in his past two games and has already matched his NHL career-high for points in a season with 10.
Did You Know?
  • After tonight's game, the Coyotes will play eight of their next 10 games at home, including six in a row at one point.

  • Tonight's game will be the first game for Coyotes defenseman Rostislav Klesa against Columbus, the team that selected him with the franchise's first ever draft pick and the fourth overall pick of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

  • Tonight's game will be broadcast on XTRA Sports 910 AM at 5 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.

  Jeff Carter
  Kristian Huselius
  Mark Letestu
  Radek Martinek
  R.J. Umberger
  James Wisniewski
  Martin Hanzal
  David Schlemko

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 03 '12 CBJ 0 at PHX 2 B. Gordon
Mar 06 '12 PHX 2 at CBJ 3 D. MacKenzie
Mar 03 '12 CBJ 5 at PHX 2 N. Nikitin
Jan 13 '12 PHX 3 at CBJ 4 D. Brassard
R. Vrbata45221537+111245
R. Whitney45142236+102240
S. Doan45121325-92233
K. Yandle4552025-32802
L. Korpikoski45101121+21002
O. Ekman-Larsson4571219-21411
M. Hanzal3351419+62821
D. Langkow3761218-51411
M. Boedker457815+0601
B. Gordon3831013+71001
T. Pyatt456612+11200
R. Torres436511+23300
D. Schlemko4111011+71000
R. Klesla38178+51500
K. Chipchura33088+21700
D. Morris39077-112600
C. O'Reilly26246-6410
D. Rundblad26156-10600
A. Aucoin39235+32410
P. O'Sullivan23224-4200
M. Rozsival17033+2800
M. Pouliot6022-1200
P. Bissonnette16101-11601
P. Nokelainen5011-1000
A. Miele7000-3600
K. Turris6000-2400
C. Summers4000+1000
G. Brule2000-1000
M. Smith3316-11-67510022.36.925
J. LaBarbera143-7-1353752.82.907
C. McElhinney21-0-02361.67.944
R. Nash43151530-212031
V. Prospal4392130-91620
F. Tyutin4331619-92600
R. Umberger4271118-61220
J. Carter3010717-91250
J. Wisniewski2921517-182501
A. Vermette4361016-131002
R. Johansen377815+21833
N. Nikitin3411415-101000
D. Brassard356814-171421
G. Clitsome384812-91811
D. Dorsett417411+110500
M. Letestu365611-12240
A. Johnson222911-1610
S. Pahlsson422810+31800
D. MacKenzie43459+62410
M. Methot37167-82400
D. Savard12055-11000
J. Moore32224-5200
K. Russell12213-11300
M. Calvert13033-51600
J. Boll29112-57700
A. Giroux9101-2800
M. Mayorov8101-2200
R. Martinek7101-3000
C. Atkinson5101-6000
R. Russell4101+0000
T. Kubalik3101-3400
C. Bass14011+03200
D. Byers4000+0700
K. Huselius2000-2200
C. Sanford217-9-3505612.59.911
S. Mason245-16-2776513.46.882
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