GLENDALE, Ariz. – Scottie Upshall clearly feels comfortable playing at home – just like the rest of his Phoenix Coyotes teammates.
Upshall had two goals and two assists to help the Phoenix Coyotes beat the reeling Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 Monday night for their seventh straight home win.
“It’s your building and you have to take advantage of the comfort of sleeping in your own bed and coming to the rink ready to play,” Upshall said. “It’s important that we stick to having great starts at home.”
The Coyotes’ home winning streak is the team’s longest since winning eight straight from Feb. 12 to March 24, 2002.
Upshall linemates Shane Doan and Matthew Lombardi each had a goal and two assists.
“I love the way Lombardi’s line went out there and kind of dictated for us and got us a lead,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We did some things to not give them any life and push our game along.”
Radim Vrbata also scored and Ed Jovanovski added two assists for the Coyotes, who have won three of their past four. Phoenix is 9-2-1 since losing consecutive games in Edmonton and Calgary just before Thanksgiving.
Derick Brassard and Antoine Vermette scored for the Blue Jackets, who are winless in their past seven (0-5-2) and 1-7-3 in December.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We have to sort this out ourselves. Every mistake we made was in our net. That’s the way it’s going.”
Upshall took a pass from Lombardi at the left doorstep and beat Mathieu Garon with a quick wrist shot to give Phoenix a 1-0 lead. The two teammates traded roles six minutes later as Lombardi took a pass off the left boards from Upshall and bounced a shot off Garon’s blocker.
Doan made it 3-0 at 4:39 of the second when he swooped in after Jovanovski’s shot hit the left post and swept the puck into the vacated right side of the net on Phoenix’s first shot on net in the period.
Brassard pulled the Blue Jackets within 3-1 at 6:27 of the period when he scored on a long rebound from the bottom of the left circle. But Vrbata answered at 13:19, swiping at a puck in the middle of the left faceoff circle and deflecting a shot off the right thigh of Columbus defenceman Marc Methot.
“That’s a bad bounce there,” Columbus captain Rick Nash said. “I don’t even know what else to say. We’re not playing well and to add to that things aren’t bouncing our way either. We just have to dig deeper.”
Upshall completed his four-point night at 7:19 of the third on a wrist shot from the top right of the crease after Jovanovski’s slap shot hit Columbus defenceman Fedor Tyutin in the leg in front of the net.
Vermette was credited with a goal when the puck bounced off his skate and past Ilya Bryzgalov with 11:13 to go.
Notes: Phoenix centre Martin Hanzal left the game after he was cut open during a fight with Jared Boll immediately following Vrbata’s goal. Hanzal later was given an assist on the score to go with his five-minute major. … Phoenix won the final three games between the clubs after losing 2-0 in the Coyotes’ home opener. … Before the game, the Coyotes signed 34-year-old veteran Anders Eriksson and recalled the defenceman from San Antonio of the AHL. To make room for Eriksson, who assisted on Lombardi’s goal, the Coyotes reassigned defenceman David Schlemko to San Antonio. … Nash was held scoreless for the second straight game for the second time this month.