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Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Senators

Columbus meets resurgent Ottawa team for first time this season

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer / BlueJackets.com

GAME 44: BLUE JACKETS VS. SENATORS

NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

SETTING THE STAGE: On Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets took a step in the right direction with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Coming off a stretch that saw them drop four of six, they wanted to return home with a strong effort and get two points against a division opponent that's making a charge in the playoff race.

Mission accomplished, yes, but with a busy week/weekend on tap, there's no time to rest on their laurels. The Blue Jackets have another confident opponent, the Ottawa Senators, coming into Nationwide Arena on Thursday night, who are coming off a win of their own against the St. Louis Blues.

Sergei Bobrovsky made his return to the net after a week-long absence due to illness and provided the stabilizing presence the Blue Jackets have become accustomed to. His league-leading 27th win of the season gave Columbus its 30th overall, and in order to get No. 31 on Thursday, they will need an even better performance than their previous game.

Under first-year coach Guy Boucher, the Senators are hanging tough in an Atlantic Division playoff race that's wide open behind the first-place Montreal Canadiens. It's becoming quite a battle atop their division with the surging Toronto Maple Leafs, who beat the Senators last weekend on Hockey Night in Canada.

NOTEWORTHY NEWS: The Blue Jackets sent Markus Hannikainen back to Cleveland (AHL) on Wednesday. Zach Werenski missed practice due to illness and his status for Thursday's game is up in the air, coach John Tortorella said. If Werenski can't play, Dalton Prout would draw in on defense. Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal for Columbus.

PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:

Saad - Wennberg - Foligno

Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson

Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson

Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner

Werenski - Jones

Johnson - Savard

Harrington - Murray

Bobrovsky

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