Coyotes Blow Lead, But Rally To Beat Blue Jackets 4-2 In Phoenix

Third period goals from Shane Doan and Vernon Fiddler lead Coyotes in win vs. Columbus.

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Quick Strike In Third Period Leads Coyotes To Win Over Columbus

For some time on Tuesday night, it looked to be more of the same Phoenix Coyotes that we've seen in recent weeks. They held a two goal edge over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, but couldn't close. Had the Coyotes built up a lead and managed to lose on Tuesday, it would have been business as usual for Phoenix.

The Coyotes did build a lead against the squad from Columbus, striking twice in the second period to earn a 2-0 lead over their out-of-town foe. Scottie Upshall struck first for the Coyotes, bringing his team-leading goal total up to 11. 

Phoenix got another boost offensively from an unlikely source. After a chance for the Coyotes, Sami Lepisto snuck a rebound past Columbus netminder Mathieu Garon for his third of the year.

The lead was short-lived for Phoenix. R.J. Umberger scored a goal for his fourth consecutive game in the latter half of the second, to narrow the deficit. Almost eight minutes into the second, Jakub Voracek leveled the score with his eighth goal of the year.

After blowing a lead against the Minnesota Wild earlier this week, the Coyotes would not be denied the win on Tuesday. Shane Doan continued his torrid run with his 10th of the year. Doan also notched an assist to give him 12 points in this seven-game point streak.

Just 52 seconds later, Vernon Fiddler made an appearance with his fourth goal of the year. It was just the second game Fiddler had scored in, with all three coming in his hat trick performance earlier this season.

The win set the Coyotes off on the right foot in the second half of the season, as well as prepared them for a Western Conference showdown with the Colorado Avalanche. While Tuesday's win wasn't a blowout, it gave the Coyotes some much needed confidence as they prepare to head down the home stretch.


Phoenix Coyotes Host Columbus Blue Jackets In First Home Game Of 2011

The Phoenix Coyotes will look to turn their fortunes around in 2011 after a rough ending to the 2010 portion of the season. After winning just six games in the month of December, Phoenix will look to turn the ship around beginning with a tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It won't be the Coyotes' first contest of 2011, however. Phoenix already lost their first game of the new year, blowing a late lead and losing a 6-5 shootout to the Minnesota Wild.

Part of the recent struggles relate to starting goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. While his upper-body injury presented the Coyotes with a huge hole in the crease, in the form of Jason LaBarbera, Bryz hasn't been the same in his three starts since. He's dropped two of his three starts since returning from the injury, while posting a disastrous .861 save percentage.

The one positive of late for the Coyotes has been captain Shane Doan. Doan has put up points in six consecutive games, including a two-goal performance in the Coyotes' last win over the Los Angeles Kings. Doan's 25 points are third on the team, while his nine goals are tied for second, in what could be an All Star year for the longtime captain.

The Blue Jackets come in just one point ahead of the Coyotes in the Western Conference, but have won three of their last four, albeit against some of the NHL's bottom feeders. Goaltender Steve Mason has started the last four games for Columbus, but gave up four goals in his last start. He has never beaten Phoenix, in four career starts.

If Mason doesn't go for the Blue Jackets, it will be backup Mathieu Garon between the pipes. Garon has six career wins against the Yotes in his career, with a 2.25 GAA.

Tuesday marks the first of four contests between these two squads this season. With the Coyotes taking three of the four games last year, they know they have a favorable matchup. That confidence will be necessary for a team that has been very flat in recent weeks, against even the NHL's weaker teams. A home crowd should help to give them a spark early on in the second half of the season.

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