Menu

Hockey

Off rare regulation loss, Coyotes visit Blue Jackets

The Phoenix Coyotes lost in regulation for the first time since January in their last contest and will try to bounce back tonight when they host the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets at Jobing.com Arena.

The Coyotes posted a superb 11-0-1 record in February, but had a six-game winning streak halted on the first day of March, losing a 4-2 decision to visiting Calgary. It was the first regulation setback for Phoenix since a 4-1 defeat to Anaheim on Jan. 31.

Phoenix enters today with a two-point lead over San Jose and Dallas for the top spot in the Pacific Division.

A former Coyote scored the game-winner against Phoenix on Thursday, as Olli Jokinen scored once in a three-goal first period for the Flames, who then held on for the 4-2 victory.

Michal Rozsival and Raffi Torres each scored in the second period for the Coyotes, while Mike Smith allowed three goals on 30 shots in the loss.

"We have a good game plan and that's why we're a successful team," said Torres. "But you're not going to win every night no matter how good you're playing."

Smith suffered his first loss since Jan. 31, ending his franchise-record win streak at 11 games. He is expected to get the start tonight and is 2-2-1 with a 2.37 goals-against average in five career games against Columbus.

The Coyotes are hoping to get centerman Gilbert Brule back tonight after he sat out the last four games with a head injury. Brule is questionable for this evening's test.

Phoenix had a seven-game home win streak snapped on Thursday and is 17-11-4 as the host this season.

The Blue Jackets are last in the NHL with 45 points, but Columbus was able to end a three-game skid with a 2-0 win at Colorado on Thursday. Steve Mason stopped 32 shots for his first shutout of the season to help anchor the Blue Jackets to the road win over the Avalanche.

Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin provided the goals for the Columbus, while Vinny Prospal added a pair of assists.

"We sure needed everyone, and we got a complete game. All of a sudden things are a lot more enjoyable here," said Prospal. "We've been losing leads in the third and tonight it finally went our way."

Thursday's victory improved Columbus' record as the guest this season to 8-20-4.

The Blue Jackets posted a 4-3 home win over the Coyotes on Jan. 13 in the lone meeting between the clubs this season. Columbus has taken two of the last three in this series, but Phoenix has still won six of the last eight encounters.

The Jackets have lost three straight and five of their last six games in the desert.