Preview: Blue Jackets at Coyotes
Clinging to the last postseason spot in the Eastern Conference and staring at the possibility of a sixth consecutive loss, the Columbus Blue Jackets responded with a big third period in the opener of a three-game road trip. Columbus scored three times in the third at Colorado on Tuesday and hopes to carry the momentum into Thursday's matchup at the Arizona Coyotes.
"We'll take them any way we can right now as far as the state of the team, and hopefully we can build off of that third period," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "It's like we hadn't won in what seems like a month, and that wears on the players." The five-game slide was the longest of the season for the Blue Jackets, who have won four of the past five visits to Arizona. The Coyotes are mired in a tailspin of their own, dropping the final four contests of a six-game road trip capped by a 5-2 setback at Nashville on Tuesday. "We knew it was going to be a tough trip with the travel and all of that stuff, but a winnable game in San Jose, winnable game in Dallas," coach Rick Tocchet said of a pair of one-goal losses prior to Tuesday's setback.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), FS Arizona
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (29-20-3): Oliver Bjorkstrand opened the scoring Tuesday, giving him goals in three consecutive games for the first time in his career and boosting his season total to 10 -- one shy of his career high set in 82 games last season. "Obviously, every time you get a few goals it helps your confidence," Bjorkstrand said. "I don't want to lose it. I want to keep it going, and to keep playing good hockey, you have to play with confidence. I can't lose that, and it's something I have to work on." Cam Atkinson has scored five times in eight games and needs one more to hit 30.
ABOUT THE COYOTES (23-25-5): Starting netminder Darcy Kuemper suffered an upper-body injury in Monday's loss, prompting the recall of Adin Hill from Tucson of the American Hockey League to serve as the backup to Calvin Pickard in Tuesday's game. However, Hill and defenseman Dakota Mermis were sent back to the minors Wednesday, which is a positive sign for Kuemper, who owns a 6-1-3 record over his 10 starts in 2019. Forward Vinnie Hinostroza has been one of the few bright spots in Arizona's injury-ravaged lineup, scoring in each of the past two games and five times in the last six.
1. Blue Jackets C Pierre-Luc Dubois has five goals and eight points in his last seven games.
2. Coyotes All-Star F Clayton Keller has not scored a goal in his last five games.
3. Blue Jackets F Artemi Panarin is riding a five-game point streak and has 15 points in his last 10 contests.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Coyotes 3