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Preview: Jackets hoping victory against Penguins provides a spark

Two-time defending champions provide great test, challenge for Columbus

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

GAME 59: PENGUINS (28-19-10) AT BLUE JACKETS (29-24-5)

Location: Nationwide Arena, 6 P.M., Sunday

TV: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go; NBCSP, TVA Sports

Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com

On the one hand, there couldn't be a worse time for the two-time defending Pittsburgh Penguins to come rolling into Columbus for the first time since that first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

The Penguins, who won that series in five games on their way to hoisting the Cup for a second straight season, are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games. They've nearly caught the Washington Capitals for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division too.

After struggling to keep pace for much of the season, Pittsburgh caught fire and has a head of steam entering the stretch run of the regular season.

"Results are the most important thing when you're in our situation and with the games dwindling," Columbus coach John Tortorella said Saturday, a day after the Blue Jackets lost, 2-1, in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers. "I do think we'll be ready to play. I do trust our team in the way they assess themselves, as far as what happened [Friday] night. So, we'll get ready to play. I want to get them out of the building here as quickly as possible [Saturday], because I want their energy in that game [Sunday]."

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Practice notes: Tortorella looking forward to Blue Jackets' response

Coach thinks pressure of playoff chase will reveal true character; Nutivaara 'banged up'

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

He'd rather the Blue Jackets have a playoff spot locked up already, but there's a part of coach John Tortorella that enjoys their current situation.

That's the coach part, which is filled with curiosity about what kind of people are wearing those Blue Jackets uniforms.

Columbus has lost its past two games, is sitting just outside the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and there are 24 games left in the regular season. The Blue Jackets will also host the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at Nationwide Arena, a huge Metropolitan Division game.

"I trust the team, but I think a lot of guys on the team haven't been in a situation where there's expectations, and now there's a fight ahead of you here as far as getting in [to the playoffs]," he said Saturday, after a snappy practice at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. "Last year, we kind of cruise and play really good hockey, but we were given up for dead before the season even started. It's a lot easier playing in that type of situation."

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Columbus Blue Jackets activate Murray, loan to Monsters

Murray, 24, activated off Injured Reserve and loaned for conditioning purposes

by BlueJackets.com Staff BlueJacketsNHL / BlueJackets.com

COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated defenseman Ryan Murray off Injured Reserve and loaned him for conditioning purposes to the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus' American Hockey League affiliate, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.

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Jackets, Murray confident his long road to recovery is worth the wait

Defenseman making sure he's ready to return, after talk with Davidson

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

John Davidson saw the effort Ryan Murray had put into recovering from an upper-body injury that's kept the Blue Jackets defenseman out of the lineup since late November.

He saw the ebbs and flows of Murray's off-ice journey, which has lasted 34 games and taken some twists and turns. He saw the looks of hope, pain and frustration - all displayed on Murray's face after he pushed it too hard and went through a couple of frustrating setbacks.

"A lot of times, if people come back too early it can affect the rest of their lives," Davidson said, standing outside the Blue Jackets' locker room Saturday at Nationwide Arena. "I'm a prime example of that. I've had four knee replacements, I've had two back operations and I'm a walking piece of Arthritis. And that's just something I live with every day."

Davidson, who said he takes medication twice daily to deal with his issues, saw something else in Murray's struggle. He saw himself, years ago, as an NHL goalie who played through numerous injuries that still remind him of the high price it ultimately took to keep playing.

"When you get older, you have experiences," Davidson said. "And you've got to rely on your experiences to try to help people that haven't had those experiences. I know with certain injuries, and I've had most of them, you know how people feel and how hard it is."

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What We Learned: PHI 2, CBJ 1

Philadelphia skated away with a 2-1 OT victory, despite being outshot 36-25, and the Blue Jackets had to settle for one point instead of two

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

It was a point earned, but it wasn't enough for the Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

It was also not the way they wanted to play against the Philadelphia Flyers, who won 2-1 in overtime despite an outstanding performance by Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We get a point because of the play of 'Bob,'" said Columbus coach John Tortorella, whose frustration showed during his postgame press conference. "I don't have an answer for 'ya, how we can play with that type of energy and that type of execution in an important game like this. No idea."

The Blue Jackets (29-24-5) outshot their eighth straight opponent. Again, it was by a significant margin (36-25). The problem was the first 30 minutes of the game, when they were too careless with the puck. Turnovers turned into multiple odd-man rushes at Bobrovsky in the first period, and he stopped them all.

Columbus rebounded to finish with more shots in the first, 11-9, but the period as a whole was a lot different than the Jackets' previous three games.

They topped 50 shots in those contests, going 2-1-0, and felt confident they could pepper Philadelphia goalie Michael Neuvirth the same way. They made him work for his 35 saves, but it wasn't enough and wasn't up to the Blue Jackets' recent standards.

"We played two teams prior to this that didn't play with much structure, [and] gave us a lot of ice to play on," Tortorella said. "This is a structure team. But we have to learn to play against teams that play with structure. We're going to have to play against teams that check tight. It's going to get tighter and tighter as each game goes by here, so I have no idea why we end up throwing something like that out there on the ice tonight."

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Full 60: CBJ fall to Flyers 2-1 in OT

Couturier nets game winner, Jackets pick up a point in OT loss.

by Anthony Allocco BlueJacketsNHL / BlueJackets.com

Matchup: Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-10, 66 pts.) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (29-24-4, 62 pts.)

Time: 7:00 p.m. EST.

Location: Nationwide Arena (Attendance: 17,364)

CBJ Starting lineup -- Forwards: Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson Defense: Werenski-Jones Goaltender: Bobrovsky

PHI Starting lineup -- Forwards: Giroux-Couturier-Konecny Defense: Provorov-Gostisbehere Goaltender: Neuvirth

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Skate Report: Jackets not backing off the gas pedal with shot barrage

Columbus looking to turn up the heat even more, seeking goals and a win vs Flyers

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

If you think the Blue Jackets might consider a pullback from their shot-first mentality that's led to three straight games with 50-plus shots on goal, think again.

It's the exact opposite.

Despite a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday at Air Canada Centre, the Jackets are feeling bolstered by their 57-28 shot adavantage in that game. They're looking to push the pedal down even further against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, 97.1 FM).

"We're a confident team right now," Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said Friday, after a rare morning skate at Nationwide Arena. "If we keep playing this same way, and I know I sound like a broken record here, but it's the mentality of just going out and trying to dominate a team for 60 minutes, not give them an inch of ice."

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Jackets activate Sonny Milano off Injured Reserve and assign to Monsters

The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated left wing Sonny Milano off Injured Reserve and assigned him to the Cleveland Monsters

by BlueJackets.com Staff BlueJacketsNHL / BlueJackets.com

COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated left wing Sonny Milano off Injured Reserve and assigned him to the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus' American Hockey League affiliate, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.

Milano, 21, has missed the past 13 contests with a torn oblique muscle suffered on January 8 at Toronto. He has registered eight goals and five assists for 13 points with six penalty minutes in 35 games with the Blue Jackets and added 0-3-3 and four penalty minutes in six contests with the Monsters this season. The Massapequa, New York native has notched 8-6-14 and six penalty minutes in 42 career NHL games and has 32-54-86 with 50 penalty minutes in 133 career AHL games with the Monsters and Springfield Falcons. He was the club's first round pick, 16th overall, in the 2014 NHL Draft.

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CBJ launch Get Out And Learn! for ages 5-8 to try hockey at free clinics

First G.O.A.L.! event set for Thursday, February 22 at Blue Jackets Winter Park, presented by Worthington Industries

by BlueJackets.com Staff BlueJacketsNHL / BlueJackets.com

COLUMBUS, OHIO - The Columbus Blue Jackets invite first-time participants, ages 5 to 8, to try hockey for free through the club's new Get Out And Learn! (G.O.A.L!) initiative. Designed for boys and girls who have no formal hockey or skating experience, these on-ice clinics are intended to remove barriers of entry to the sport and offer kids the opportunity to try hockey without the cost of purchasing equipment. The program kicks off with its first clinic on Thursday, February 22 from 6-7 p.m. at Blue Jackets Winter Park, presented by Worthington Industries. Advance registration for all sessions is required and open now at BlueJackets.com/GOAL.

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Preview: Blue Jackets hope to start big Metro weekend with more finish

Columbus looking to keep shot count high against Flyers, but score more goals

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

GAME 58: FLYERS (28-19-10) AT BLUE JACKETS (29-24-4)

Location: Nationwide Arena, 7 P.M., Friday

TV: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go; NBCSP, TVA Sports

Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com

This is a big weekend for the Blue Jackets, who have 62 points and play two more Metropolitan Division teams, including the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.

First, though, they'll face another team from Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Flyers are coming off a 5-4 shootout loss Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils, but are third in the Metro with 66 points and haven't lost in regulation in their past six games.

"We're in good position right now to make the playoffs, but we can't get comfortable with it," Flyer captain Claude Giroux said after Philadelphia's morning skate Friday. "There's a lot of teams that are chasing us. Just having that experience of going to the playoffs this year would help us for the future, so these games like tonight against teams chasing us, they're big games."

The Blue Jackets are coming off a 6-3 loss Wednesday to the Toronto Maple Leafs, despite outshooting them 57-28 and becoming just the second team in NHL history to post 50-plus shots in three consecutive games. They've outshot their last seven opponents, including the last six by a whopping 283-173 margin, but went 2-5-0 in those games - including five against Metro teams.

Regardless of those outcomes, Columbus doesn't plan to back off its shoot-first mentality.

"We're not going to change our mindset," defenseman Seth Jones said, following the Blue Jackets' morning skate. "We score three goals in a game, get 50 shots, it's good enough to win. [You] can't give up five goals. That's not a recipe for success. We've been scoring some goals lately ... six, four and three the past few games, and that's pretty good. That's good enough to win in our book. We're going to keep that mentality of shooting the puck and retrieving it and shooting it again."

Columbus sits just outside a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, a point behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the second wild-card spot. The Blue Jackets are four points behind the New Jersey Devils for the top wild card and four back of the Flyers.

That's despite going 8-11-2 since Dec. 23, when the Jackets defeated the Flyers, 2-1, in a shootout at Nationwide Arena.

"We can't lose our swagger because you lose a game," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "You need to understand how you played, and we've got to get right on the attack against a really good Philadelphia team."

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