By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – The Coyotes extended their unbeaten streak on home ice with a convincing 5-2 victory over the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night at Jobing.com Arena.
The victory was the seventh in a row in Glendale for the Coyotes (22-13-2), who scored twice in the first period and twice in the second period despite totaling just 12 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.
The trio of captain Shane Doan, Scottie Upshall and Matthew Lombardi, who were just recently teamed on the same line, appeared as if they've played together since training camp. The threesome took turns scoring goals as the Coyotes built a 3-0 lead within the first 25 minutes of the game.
"I love the way Lombardi’s line went out there and kind of dictated for us, got us a lead," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "And I thought we managed the puck very well tonight. We did some things to not give them any life and push our game along."
Upshall had two goals and two assists for the first four-point game of his NHL career.
Doan's goal was particularly slick as he, Ed Jovanovski and Upshall dazzled the Blue Jackets defenders with a tic-tac-toe exchange that Doan capped with a backhanded shot off Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon as he dived in an attempt to block the shot.
Radim Vrbata added his 12th goal at 13:19 of the second period to give Phoenix a 4-1 lead.
Upshall scored a power-play goal at 7:19 of the third period to completely deflate the Blue Jackets (14-16-7), who have lost seven games in a row and seven of eight to the Coyotes over the past two seasons.
"Nobody's going to feel sorry for us," Columbus Head Coach Ken Hitchcock told reporters. "We have to sort this out ourselves. Every mistake we made was in our net. That's the way it's going."
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal fought Blue Jackets enforcer Jared Boll immediately after Radim Vrbata gave Phoenix a 4-1 lead late in the second period. Boll got in Vrbata's face after the goal, and Hanzal took exception and defended his teammate. After Hanzal landed a few jabs to Boll's head, Boll responded with a punch to Hanzal's face that bloodied him. Hanzal left the ice but returned later in the game. In the third period, Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette got into the act with a crushing check on Columbus forward Derick Brassard that quickly led to a bout with Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot.
• Defenseman Anders Eriksson made his debut with the Coyotes after being signed and recalled from the American Hockey League earlier in the day. Eriksson played 11:00 and notched his first point with Phoenix when he assisted on Matthew Lombardi’s goal at 11:44 of the first period. Eriksson began the scoring sequence with a crisp pass to Scottie Upshall on the left wing from inside the Phoenix zone. An equipment problem caused Eriksson to miss about half of the second period.
• Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves to earn his 20th win of the season. Bryzgalov's career-high for wins in an NHL season is 28.
• The Coyotes are 9-2-1 over their past 12 games and have outscored opponents 36-24 in those games.
• Center Vernon Fiddler missed his first game of the season. Fiddler is listed as day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury in Saturday's game at Anaheim.
• The Coyotes scratched Vernon Fiddler (lower-body injury) and Sami Lepisto (healthy). Columbus scratched Andrew Murray and Anton Stralman.
"It’s your building and you have to take advantage of the comfort of sleeping in your own bed and coming to the rink ready to play, and I think it’s important that we stick to having great starts at home."
"Scottie shoots the puck really well and 'Lombo' (Matthew Lombardi) skates so well, and those two guys created a lot of chances. Fortunately, a couple of them went in for us."
"We’re having a stretch right now where we’re not getting bounces, and it doesn’t matter who you play, it seems like all the deflections in the world wouldn’t go in tonight."