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Coyotes Maintain Playoff Position, Blank Blue Jackets 3-0

 

The Coyotes game an unwelcome homecoming to a couple of their former mates, with Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto returning to Jobing.com Arena on the losing side of a 3-0 game.

The two were shipped to the Blue Jackets in a surprising deal at the trade deadline, in the deal that netted the Yotes a solid defenseman, in Rostislav Klesla.

Aside from the fact that a couple of fan favorites were returning to the desert, the two were relatively quiet. This was a theme for the rest of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who could not manage a goal in Thursday's 3-0 affair.

The Coyotes wouldn't need a ton of offense in this one, but got the necessary contributions, despite another slow start offensively.

The first goal came early in the second, when Vernon Fiddler shot a cross-ice pass to Michal Rozsival, who was left wide open to the left of Columbus netminder Mathieu Garon. Rozsival easily flicked the one-timer past Garon for the 1-0 lead.

Later in the second, the Yotes' blue line struck again. On a 3-on-1 rush, Shane Doan was unable to pot the pass from Taylor Pyatt, but Garon did leave a rebound floating around for Derek Morris to find. The veteran d-man picked it up and worked it around Garon for the game's second goal.

The crushing blow came with five minutes to go in the game, with Mikkel Boedker picking up the rebound from a Keith Yandle blast from the point and putting it past Garon. 

But the story of the night was the big wall in the crease that was Ilya Bryzgalov. In earning his seventh shutout of the season, Bryz made 28 saves, and never really gave Columbus a chance to climb into this one.

The win gives the Coyotes a bit of revenge for their previous 5-3 loss to the Jackets, and gives them their third win in four games against Columbus this season.

Thursday's game leaves the Coyotes with just a half-dozen games for the remainder of the year. With the win, they were able to stay three points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, but the Kings also have two games in hand over the Yotes, having played just 74 games.

Sitting just two points back of the San Jose Sharks for third, though, the Coyotes have an early "playoff" game awaiting them on Saturday. They'll meet those Sharks, who the Coyotes have struggled against this season, losing all three tilts they've had to this point.