BLUE JACKETS (6-10-1) vs. BRUINS (11-5-1)
TV: NHLN-US, FS-O, NESN
Last 10: Columbus 4-5-1; Boston 6-3-1
Season series: The Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins play the second of three games Thursday. Loui Eriksson's goal in the opening minute of the third period, combined with 26 saves from Tuukka Rask, led the Bruins to a 3-1 win against the Blue Jackets on Oct. 12. The teams meet for the final time this season in Boston on Nov. 30.
Big story: The Bruins close out a five-game homestand as winners of three straight and four of their past six. With back-to-back games against Columbus and the Ottawa Senators, Rask, who has started 15 of 17 games, will sit for Chad Johnson.
"If we can finish on a good note here, it will certainly send us on the road with some confidence," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Wednesday. "We know there's going to be some tough games coming up, another back-to-back in Carolina and New York. We need to take advantage of what we thought was important for us. That home stretch was one of those things. If we can win [Thursday], nine out of 10 possible points is a pretty successful homestand."
Blue Jackets: Although Columbus rallied to take a 3-2 lead midway through the third period Tuesday, the Washington Capitals tied the game with 1:45 left in regulation and Alex Ovechkin scored the winner 94 seconds into overtime to send the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 loss in Washington. Columbus lost for the sixth time in seven games (1-5-1) and sits in a last-place tie with the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metropolitan Division.
"This is tough," right wing Jared Boll said Tuesday. "This is tough to swallow; two points we're throwing away. We had the lead with a couple minutes to play and we blew it."
Bruins: Boston has played with speed, emotion and physicality in winning three straight games including a 3-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. The Bruins are 3-0-1 on their homestand after going 1-3-1 in their previous five games.
"Our team had been going through a bit of a slump, and we didn't play with the energy and obviously the cohesion that you need to play well," Julien said. "Through a schedule like ours in hockey with 82 games, you get those [skids] and we've been trying to fight our way out of it, and right now we're finding our game slowly."
Who's hot: Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky has two goals and five assists in his past four games and is tied for the League lead with two shorthanded goals. Defenseman James Wisniewski is on a three-game point streak (one goal, three assists) … The Bruins' top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla has combined for 41 points and the second line is beginning to click. Patrice Bergeron, Eriksson and Brad Marchand have combined for four goals, eight points and a plus-5 rating in their past three games. Rookie defenseman Torey Krug is on a four-game point streak and has six goals, 11 points and a plus-4 rating in 17 games.
Injury report: The Blue Jackets are missing forwards Nathan Horton (shoulder surgery), Cody Bass (broken thumb), Matt Calvert (abdominal surgery) and Boone Jenner (leg). … Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (strained right hip/groin) is day-to-day. "He's not skating now because he's not capable of it," Julien said Wednesday. "We keep hoping he keeps improving and we'll see where he stands."
Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNHL
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