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After struggling earlier this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets are finally enjoying some success.
The Blue Jackets look to conclude a perfect four-game homestand against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.
Columbus (7-6-2) opened the season by losing six of its first nine, capped by a three-game losing streak from Oct. 24-27. But the Blue Jackets have since collected points in six straight games, going 4-0-2 with three straight wins at Nationwide Arena including 3-1 over Calgary on Saturday.
"We're definitely evolving as a team and becoming more of a team, if that makes sense," Columbus' Manny Malhotra said. "Our young guys are adding points and playing well. Our goaltending is standing on its head. Every aspect of our game is coming along nicely. It's all coming together."
| Photos: @ PHX (10-11-08)
Video: @ PHX (10-11-08)
Rookie Steve Mason made 22 saves versus the Flames, and on Monday was named the NHL's second star of the week after recording a 2.60 goals-against average during Columbus' streak - its longest since winning four straight from Jan. 11-17.
Mason was called up from Syracuse of the AHL on Nov. 4 due to injuries to Pascal Leclaire (sprained ankle) and backup Fredrik Norrena (groin). Both are out indefinitely.
Columbus has alternated wins and losses in its last six home matchups versus Phoenix (7-6-0) since March 9, 2006. The Blue Jackets faced the Coyotes on Oct. 11 on the road, falling 3-1.
Phoenix, meanwhile, is looking for its first three-game winning streak of 2008-09. After a 4-1 home win over Florida on Saturday, the Coyotes rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat visiting San Jose 4-2 on Sunday, and stop the Sharks' seven-game winning streak.
Olli Jokinen had two goals and an assist, and Peter Mueller scored one and set up another for the Coyotes, who had two power-play goals in the same game for the first time since their opening-night win over Columbus last month.
Jokinen has six goals and three assists over his last six contests, and a goal and three assists during a three-game point streak versus Columbus.
Phoenix is getting strong goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, who boasts a 1.51 GAA while winning three of his last four starts. He made 30 saves versus San Jose, and is 3-3-0 with a 2.94 GAA in seven career games versus the Blue Jackets.
"He's making big saves and key saves," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He's really in a groove right now and it's good to see."
Bryzgalov will have to try and stop Columbus' Derick Brassard, who leads all rookies with a team-high 13 points. Picked sixth overall in the 2006 draft, Brassard has four goals and three assists in his last six games, and scored for the Blue Jackets against Phoenix last month.