By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to snap a season-high three-game losing streak tonight when they play the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (33-24-9) will enter the game less than 24 hours after losing to the Penguins, 2-1, on Monday night in Pittsburgh.
The Coyotes, who also lost three straight games in early December, are in second place in the Pacific Division standings. Phoenix and first-place Dallas each have 75 points in 66 games, but the Stars have more regulation/overtime wins.
Tonight’s game is the third of four between these teams this season and the second showdown in four days. Columbus has won both, including a 5-2 victory at Jobing.com Arena on Saturday.
Goalie Mike Smith, who has allowed nine goals on 83 shots during the team’s three-game skid, will make his 10th consecutive start. Despite his recent heavy workload, Smith lobbied the coaching staff to play in this game and they will honor his request.
Center Antoine Vermette tonight will play his first game at Nationwide Arena since Columbus traded him to the Coyotes on Feb. 22. Vermette has notched zero points in his first six games with Phoenix.
Coyotes forward Lauri Korpikoski has notched four points against the Blue Jackets this season, including two of his 14 goals.
Photo by Getty Images.
The Blue Jackets (20-38-7) will enter the game last in the NHL with 47 points. However, Columbus has won two games in a row and is 7-6-1 in its past 14 games.
Captain Rick Nash scored twice vs. the Coyotes on Saturday and has notched 14 goals in the last 29 games after being held to six goals in the previous 24 games. He has taken a team-high 247 shots; only Evgeni Malkin (267) and James Neal (265) of the Penguins have taken more shots this season.
Goalie Steve Mason is 3-1-1 in his last five starts and he has stopped 140 of 153 shots in those games.
Twenty-nine players have scored at least one goal for the Blue Jackets this season. It’s the most in the NHL and a franchise record.
Coyotes left wing Ray Whitney has scored a goal in five of the past six games, and leads the team with 60 points.
Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard has notched a goal and three assists in the past three games, and ranks second on the team with 12 goals.
The Coyotes, who played at Pittsburgh on Monday, are 5-3-1 in the second game of back-to-back games this season.
The Coyotes have been outscored 12-2 in the first period of their past seven games. The team's record in those games is 4-3-0.
Tonight's game will be broadcast on XTRA Sports 910 AM at 5 p.m. For in-game updates via Twitter, follow @coyotesgameday.