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Preview: Blue Jackets at Penguins

Columbus makes first trip to Pittsburgh for big Metro Division clash

by Rob Mixer @RobMixer / BlueJackets.com

GAME 50: BLUE JACKETS AT PENGUINS

PPG PAINTS ARENA, 7 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

SETTING THE STAGE: After playing less-than-their-best going into the All-Star break, the Blue Jackets have three straight games that they hope can help get their mental edge back.

When they were rolling along on a 16-game winning streak, the Blue Jackets had an unflappable confidence that they relied on when adversity struck; whether they were up by a goal or trailing by two, they believed a positive outcome was inevitable. They've gotten away from that mentality a little bit in recent weeks, coach John Tortorella said, but having emotional division games out of the break can sometimes be a good thing. That began in their last game, a 6-4 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

For most of the first period and the entire second period on Tuesday, the Blue Jackets were engaged. They were ready to go. Sure, they let off the gas in the third period but before mounting a 6-0 lead, they seemed to be in the right frame of mind for a key divisional game. The same applies to Friday's game at PPG Paints Arena, the Blue Jackets' second meeting of the season with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

The first meeting was a 7-1 rout at Nationwide Arena punctuated by Scott Hartnell's hat trick. The Blue Jackets played a strong game and the Penguins have had better nights, and they will be ready for Columbus this time around. A mere three points separate these two teams in the Metropolitan Division standings, making for quite an important game to start the weekend.

NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Markus Nutivaara practiced for the second straight day, but his status hasn't changed. It's considered a longshot for him to play Friday vs. the Penguins. The Blue Jackets' forward lines and defense pairs did not change in their Thursday practice before departing for Pittsburgh. Expect Sergei Bobrovsky to start in goal.

PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:

Saad - Wennberg - Foligno

Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson

Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson

Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner

Werenski - Jones

Murray - Johnson

Harrington - Prout

Bobrovsky

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