Coyotes Look To Rebound From Blowout In Columbus Against Blue Jackets

After the embarrassment that was Wednesday night's loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Phoenix Coyotes will look to get back on track when they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.

Friday marks the fourth part of a five-game road trip, with the Yotes going 2-1 to this point. They had won eight straight prior to their 8-3 loss in Tampa.

There's no question that Ilya Bryzgalov will be back between the pipes for Phoenix on Friday. Bryz had started 19 in a row prior to Wednesday, when Dave Tippett handed the reigns over to Jason LaBarbera. LaBarbera imploded, surrendering all eight goals in the loss.

Columbus will have a top notch goaltender of their own in the crease when the Coyotes visit them, in Steve Mason. Mason has won six of seven starts, with two shutouts over that span, while allowing just one goal in another two.

Ray Whitney is a possibility to return to the lineup after missing the last two games for Phoenix with a lower-body injury. He will be a gametime decision for Phoenix. Adrian Aucoin is also questionable, having not played since Saturday.

One player who will certainly be out for the Coyotes is Scottie Upshall, who is still serving a suspension for a hit he laid on Oskars Bartulius against the Philadelphia Flyers. Friday is the second part of his two-game suspension for the hit that ended Bartulius' season.

After their loss on Wednesday, the Coyotes slid down to fourth in the Western Conference, but still lead everyone else by at least five points. The Blue Jackets have begun a climb into contention, sitting just a few points back of eighth place.

With a win and a loss by the San Jose Sharks, Phoenix will move back into third. While a loss won't hurt them terribly at this point, it could begin to set them back into a race with the rest of the other nine teams competing in the West.

As always, you can follow along with Five For Howling, following the 5 p.m. puck drop, Phoenix time.

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