Coyotes-Blue Jackets Preview
It took the Arizona Coyotes 25 games to get to 10 wins last season, and they went on to finish last in the Pacific Division.
Should their winning streak reach four games Saturday night in Columbus, they'll have done it in 17 this time around with the top of the division in sight.
The Coyotes (9-6-1) preceded a four-game road trip with Thursday's 4-1 home win over Edmonton, winning three straight for the second time this season. They haven't won four in a row since stringing five together from Oct. 26-Nov. 5, 2013.
Max Domi had a goal and an assist, giving the rookie three goals on the winning streak.
"We're really excited and happy with how we're playing," said Domi, who has 15 points in his first 16 NHL games. "Obviously, slow starts is something that has been a problem, but it makes it that much sweeter."
Arizona has come from at least a goal down in each game on the winning streak and is averaging 2.88 goals per game after finishing ahead of only Buffalo last season with 2.01.
"It hasn't always been easy coming back from deficits the past few years, so it's nice to see that we can do it," goaltender Mike Smith said. "It shows a lot about our group."
Smith has been better over a 3-1-0 span with a 2.34 goals-against average after going 1-3-1 with 4.55 mark over his previous seven. He's also 4-1-1 with a 1.44 GAA and two shutouts in his last seven against the Blue Jackets.
Arizona won both meetings last season with 10 goals scored, and its held Columbus to 1.75 goals per game over a 5-1-2 span.
The Blue Jackets (5-12-0) didn't require a whole lot of offense in Friday's 2-1 win in Pittsburgh. Scott Hartnell and Brandon Saad scored in the second period as they won for the fifth time in nine games after a 0-8-0 start.
Hartnell has six goals in his last eight games, Saad added an assist and has six points in his last six, and the team overcame the loss of Brandon Dubinsky due to an upper-body injury to bounce back from Tuesday's 5-3 home loss to Vancouver.
"We found a way to get it done," coach John Tortorella told the team's official website. "I think it's a really good answer after a really, really hard loss for those guys against Vancouver. It's funny how it works…you lose a big guy who eats up a lot of minutes (Dubinsky) and guys are moved in and out of positions. I'm just happy the way they banded together - I thought we played really well as a team."
It was just the second time this season the Blue Jackets have held a team to one goal, and they remain without a shutout. They'd given up nine goals in the previous two games.
"Our defense played really well tonight," Nick Foligno said. "We were battling, we were good along the walls, and we made them play in their end. That's how we play: we're a hard, heavy, forechecking team ... and to hold a high-offensive team to one goal and get a couple of our own, it says a lot about our team."
Sergei Bobrovsky still has a ways to go to correct an .888 save percentage, but Curtis McElhinney could complete the back-to-back set. The Columbus backup has allowed three goals in all three of his starts, though his only career game against Arizona resulted in a 34-save shutout.