The last time the Coyotes had more wins than regulation losses:
-- Katrina was just a woman's name.
-- President Bush's popularity ratings were high.
-- And hockey fan Steve Nash played for the Dallas Mavericks.
The time was late January 2004. The Coyotes' Brian Boucher had just finished his record-setting shutout streak in the nets, and the club was sliding into a nine-game winless streak that would cost coach Bob Francis his job.
Today, by contrast, the Coyotes (11-10-2) can really enjoy a plus-.500 record — in terms of having won a majority of the points up for grabs — a feat achieved with a 5-1 rout Sunday night of lowly Columbus.
With 24 points, the Coyotes sit third in the Pacific Division, No. 8 in the Western Conference.
"It's big," captain Shane Doan said of the Coyotes' record. "You never want to be chasing .500.
"It takes your attention away from what you should be doing: Climbing the ladder" in the standings.
The Coyotes had a number of high points, including a four-goal margin that tied their most lopsided victory so far, while their five scores tied their highest goal output.
Coach Wayne Gretzky was pleased his team didn't suffer a letdown after a "great victory" Saturday night in San Jose.
So, facing a Columbus team that is struggling — it has now lost five straight overall and nine straight on the road — the Coyotes scored the game's first two goals. That was what they'd talked about doing beforehand. "When you're playing a team that's having a tough time, you want to get off to a good start,” Gretzky said.
No game can be taken for granted, he said.
"There's more parity in the game than ever . . . There are no easy games anymore."
Once they got ahead, "We played with the lead well," said goalie David LeNeveu, who turned away 23 of 24 shots on goal.
"We weren't making turnovers."
The Coyotes ran up a 3-1 lead by the end of the second period. They would have had another score, but Denis Gauthier was in the crease and called for goaltender interference on a breakaway shot by Mike Johnson.
Johnson got a goal anyway. He opened the scoring on a power play at 6:27 of the first period. The Coyotes took advantage of a five-on-three situation in the second period when Ladislav Nagy got credit for a goal — his sixth straight game with a point — that went off the skate of Columbus defenseman Radoslav Suchy.
Then the teams traded slap shots from inside the blue line for goals, Gilbert Brule for the Blue Jackets to cut the Coyotes' lead to 2-1, then Zbynek Michalek scored for the Coyotes to push the lead back to 3-1.
That effectively clinched the win.
Boyd Devereaux tapped in a rebound and Geoff Sanderson scored off a turnover in the final period.
NASH GETTING READY
Tyson Nash, out the past eight games with an abdominal strain, says he'll be ready to play Tuesday at home vs. Anaheim. He hurt himself the day Gretzky ran the Coyotes through a tough practice. He flew to Philadelphia and saw a specialist last week and said he feels much better.
CHIMERA FARING WELL
These two teams were involved in a trade at the season's start.
The Coyotes traded Jason Chimera, Mike Rupp and Cale Hulse to Columbus on Oct. 8 for Geoff Sanderson.
Chimera, who never played a game for the Coyotes after being acquired in a trade in the summer of 2004, is sixth on the team in points and playing on the third line. Rupp is in the minors and Hulse is getting more ice time recently after being a healthy scratch often early on.
Other Blue Jackets who have played for the Coyotes include Trevor Letwoski, Suchy and Jan Hrdina.
Sanderson has four goals and six assists for the Coyotes.