COYOTES (13-11-3) at BLUE JACKETS (10-12-6)
TV: FS-A PLUS, FS-O
Last 10: Phoenix 5-5-0; Columbus 5-1-4
Season series: Third and final meeting of the regular season. The first two went to the Coyotes in Phoenix. Steve Sullivan recorded the hat trick in a 5-1 win on Jan. 23, while Martin Hanzal scored a pair of third-period goals to spark a 5-3 victory on Feb. 16.
Big story: Even when they aren't winning, these days the Blue Jackets are picking up points. They're looking to extend a franchise record streak (5-0-4) to double digits by earning at least a point in a 10th consecutive game on Saturday.
Coyotes: This is the second stop on a somewhat odd four-game road trip for Phoenix that will end in Los Angeles with games against the Kings on consecutive nights at Staples Center. The Coyotes began their journey Thursday in St. Louis and couldn't find a way to beat Jake Allen, who handed them a 3-0 loss and picked up his first NHL shutout in the process. The Coyotes got four shots apiece from Lauri Korpikoski and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
"In reality, we didn't play well enough to win," said goalie Mike Smith, who made 27 saves. "We didn't play well enough to get those bounces going our way. We weren't ready to play from the drop of the puck. We had a better second, and we obviously were trying to press at the end of the game to get back into it."
Blue Jackets: A five-game winning streak has given way to back-to-back losses for Columbus, but perhaps the best sign this Blue Jackets team may be starting to turn the corner is the players no longer seem satisfied just to get a consolation point. And while they still haven't broken through against the Blackhawks in four tries this season, the Jackets took the Western Conference's top team past regulation for a second straight meeting Thursday in what ended a 2-1 shootout defeat. All four of their losses to the Hawks have come by a single goal.
"It could have gone either way tonight," said Derick Brassard who set up Jack Johnson's power-play goal in the second period. "It was a tough shootout there for us. We battled for 65 minutes [and] I think we played a good game.
"We need to find a way to win those games because those points are really important."
Who's hot: Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was brilliant again Thursday, stopping 39 of 40 shots over 65 minutes. Over his past seven starts he's 5-0-2 and has allowed one goal or fewer six times, including two shutouts. His save percentage is an eye-catching .971 over that span.
Injury report: Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek (ankle) is day-to-day. Forward Radim Vrbata (foot) is on injured reserve. … Columbus forward Derek MacKenzie (upper body) is day-to-day. Forward Derek Dorsett (collarbone) and defensemen Ryan Murray (shoulder), James Wisniewski (foot) and John Moore (upper body) are on injured reserve.
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