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BLUE JACKETS Coyotes take out frustrations on Columbus



Published: Sat, February 22, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



Phoenix is 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the West.

PHOENIX (AP) -- After a shutout loss to New Jersey last week, the Phoenix Coyotes vowed to put more effort into their remaining games.

Nobody took the pledge more seriously than Tony Amonte.

The struggling right wing had two goals as the Coyotes won their third straight, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Tuesday night.

"We just went out and tried to be a little more physical tonight -- stay on the body and get in front, bring the puck to the net as best we could," Amonte said.

Bounced back

The Coyotes have bounced back from a season-high four-game losing streak to climb into a tie with idle Nashville for 11th place in the West, 10 points out of the final playoff spot.

Mike Johnson and Ladislav Nagy each had a goal and an assist, and Brad May also scored for the Coyotes, who led 3-1 after one of their best opening periods this season.

"A lot of times you can win games in the first period as opposed to the third period, and I think that was the case tonight," Phoenix coach Bob Francis said.

Brian Boucher remained unbeaten against the Blue Jackets (3-0-2). This time, he faced just 16 shots, allowing power-play goals by David Vyborny and Mike Sillinger.

Columbus goalie Marc Denis gave up five goals for the second straight game as the Blue Jackets dropped their second straight after a 4-1-2 run. He had 14 saves in a 7-1 loss to Chicago on Saturday, and stopped 30 shots by the Coyotes.

"Usually when a team gets smacked like that, they respond," Boucher said. "We didn't want to let them respond against us, and we did a great job of taking it to them. Aside from a couple of unfortunate breaks there, we pretty much had this game all the way."

Johnson beat Denis low on the glove side for his team-high 18th goal with 6:27 to play. He fired from just outside the crease after he got a crossing pass from Daymond Langkow racing down the left wing for the only goal of the third period.

Nagy scored with 2:39 left in the second.

Amonte, who got a $24 million, four-year contract in the offseason to revive the Phoenix offense, had not had a goal since Jan. 1 until his pair in the first period lifted him to 13 for the season.

"It's just nice to get a chance to chip in for your team and get those few goals early," he said. "Hopefully, there'll be more of that to come."

Making it 2-0

May scored before Amonte's deflection with 5:11 remaining made it 2-0 in the first period. The Phoenix power play began when Columbus defenseman Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, who had lost his stick, scooped the puck into the crowd for a delay of game.

Amonte gave the Coyotes a 3-0 lead when he got a rebound of a shot by Brian Savage, fired once and retrieved Denis' stop by kicking the puck in front of him. Skating across the crease, Amonte shot back into the net with 1:24 left in the first.




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