The Arizona Coyotes will look to rebound and find consistency in their game when they visit the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
After starting the season better than many expected, the Coyotes have not linked a pair of wins together since the fourth and fifth games of the campaign.
Over their last eight games, they have alternated wins and losses, with their most recent victory a 7-5 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday before falling to the Western Conference rival Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime on Tuesday.
While Arizona has remained competitive despite inconsistency, they have struggled to hold onto leads late in games, allowing a 3-2 lead to slip in the final five minutes against Dallas, eventually leading to the overtime defeat.
“We need to become comfortable in the uncomfortable situations, and not just protecting the lead,” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said following the Dallas loss. “The NHL is a good league. The opponent, at any moment in any game, will have momentum. They will push. We do it, they will do it to us, and that will happen.”
Facing the Blue Jackets, the Coyotes will look to take advantage of a struggling team to vault them higher in the West. The Blue Jackets are winless in six games, looking to snap a streak which has seen them claim two of a possible 12 points, most recently a 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Following the defeat, the Blue Jackets fell into a tie for last place in the Eastern Conference. Columbus has only won once in November, and has conceded the fourth most goals in the NHL with 58, only better than the Tampa Bay Lightning — a team it has beaten — as well as the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks.
While the Blue Jackets have struggled, they have remained competitive throughout their skid, with four of the six games decided by one goal. While the Pittsburgh loss was a two-goal margin, it included an empty-net goal at 19:23 of the third period.
“We can say we’ve been close in a lot of games this year; we’re not finding ways to win,” Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski said. “To do that, it’s that extra play, that extra just little bit to get over the hump and to win these games or close them out. It’s tough right now. It’s frustrating for all of us.”
While both teams search for consistency, the matchup also pits the two most recent third-overall draft picks against each other, with Arizona’s Logan Cooley taken in that slot in 2022 and Columbus rookie Adam Fantilli hearing his name called at that spot a year later.
Both players are having strong starts to their seasons, with Cooley posting a team-leading 10 assists and Fantilli tied for the team lead with nine points, including four goals.
–Field Level Media
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