GAME 8: KINGS (5-0-1) AT BLUE JACKETS (5-2-0)
NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M., SATURDAY
TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO
RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM
Things don't get any easier for Columbus, but the Jackets might get some extra firepower back against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
After skating on the second line in practice Friday, forward Boone Jenner was activated off injured reserve and is a possibility to make his season debut. The Jackets assigned forward Markus Hanikainen to the Cleveland Monsters, their American Hockey League affiliate, to make room on the roster.
"I've been feeling good," said Jenner, who missed the entire preseason and first seven games with a middle-body injury that happened shortly before training camp. "I'm itching to come back and help the boys."
If he's in the lineup, Jenner will draw a tough opponent for his first game back. The Kings have yet to lose in regulation, and sit atop the Pacific Conference standings with 11 points.
Los Angeles did lose a major piece of its lineup, however, when second-line center Jeff Carter - a former Blue Jacket - sustained a laceration to his left leg that required surgery Thursday. Carter is out indefinitely, and the Kings signed veteran Brooks Laich to a one-year contract to take his roster spot.
The Jackets, meanwhile, are looking to rebound from a frustrating 2-0 loss Thursday to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They finished with a commanding 43-21 edge in shots, outshooting Tampa Bay 33-8 over the final two periods, but couldn't get the puck past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Columbus, which hopes to generate better scoring opportunities regardless of shot totals.
"I looked at the tape this morning, and I think I was fooled," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said after practice Friday at Nationwide Arena. "I think it's very important that our team isn't fooled. We weren't good. You've got to play the right way. We're going to show them video and then we're going to get ready for our next game."
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to make his second straight start in net for Columbus, which has finished with more shots on net in six of its first seven games - including the past four in a row.
2017-18 Season: (0-0-0). The teams play once more this season, Mar. 1 in Los Angeles.
All-time: 23-26-5; 14-10-3 at Nationwide Arena
"BY THE NUMBERS"
- 43: Number of shots the Blue Jackets have put on net twice in the past four games, against the Rangers (Oct. 13) and Lightning on Thursday.
- 43.3: Percentage of face-offs Columbus has won thus far, which ranks last (31st) in the league.
- 22: Number of shots the Jackets have put on goal during a power play scoring outage, which is now at 0-for-18 over six-plus games.
- 222: Amount of shots Columbus has put on net during 5on5 this season, which ranks first in the NHL. That's 30 more than second-place Rangers (192). The Jackets have allowed 153 shots during 5-on-5, and rank second with a 59.2% shots-for percentage.
EYES ON: THE KINGS
- The Kings are coming off an impressive 5-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday at Staples Center. They will begin a six-game road trip in Columbus, play four more Eastern Conference teams and then conclude it Oct. 30 against the St. Louis Blues.
- There's a good chance the Blue Jackets will face another hot goaltender. Jonathan Quick is likely to start for the Kings, after making 36 saves against the Canadiens. Quick is second in the NHL with a .950 save percentage among goalies who've faced at least 100 shots, and his 1.59 goals-against average ranks third under those parameters - a fraction behind Bobrovsky's 1.58 GAA.
- Center Adrian Kempe had a hat trick against Montreal for his first three goals of the season. Kempe, picked by the Kings with the No. 29 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, had six points (two goals, four assists) in 30 games last season.
- Carter's injury creates a big void in the middle of L.A.'s second line. The Kings' famed "70s Line," in which all three players wear numbers in the 70s, had just begun to heat up. Prior to the game against the Canadiens, the trio combined for two goals and four assists in the previous two games. Nick Shore, who wears No. 21, is expected to get the first shot at playing between Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.
EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS
- The Blue Jackets' power play is looking for a spark. They've stalled out on the man-advantage for the past six-plus games, and haven't scored a power-play goal in their past 18 opportunities. They're 1-for-19 overall, with the lone goal scored by Zach Werenski in a 5-0 win Oct. 6 to open the season against the New York Islanders.
- Face-offs aren't everything in hockey, but they do have their key moments - such as starting special-teams plays. The Jackets' struggles to win at the face-off dot thus far are most glaring on the power play, which makes it more difficult for the units to get set up in the offensive zone. "Face-offs are important," Tortorella said. "Our power play, we didn't win a face-off on our power play. You get an advantage when you have a penalty called against the other team. You get a face-off in the end zone. We did nothing with that advantage [against Tampa Bay]."
- Hannikainen never got back into a game after his turnover late in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 10 led directly to Jeff Skinner scoring a game-tying goal. Tortorella went with Zac Dalpe at right wing on the fourth line in the following game, a 3-1 win against the New York Rangers, and he hasn't left the lineup since. Tortorella said Hannikainen's turnover wasn't the impetus for the switch. He said it was about Dalpe earning the role, which he hasn't relinquished.
- The Blue Jackets also activated Sam Vigneault (hand) from injured reserve and assigned him to Cleveland.
Kings forward Dustin Brown is two hits away from 3,000 for his career. Since hits became an official stat in the 2002-03 season, Brown's 2,998 hits are most in the NHL. The closest active player is Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik (2,623). It should be noted that stats weren't kept in 2003-04, but if it had been, it would probably just increase his lead.
"We know we're a good power-play line, so we just try to do the right things. Obviously, right now [we're not getting] the bounces or goals that we want, so we've just got to work harder and make it happen." - Blue Jackets center Alexander Wennberg on the lack of power-play goals the past six games.
"We weren't in the blue [paint], we had no rebound chances. Shots on goal were lopsided, but chances were basically even in the game, so I mean, I was fooled. I thought we played a really good second period. We did not play the right way, and that's the most important thing, is we've got to make sure we define how we play. We've got to evaluate how we play, no matter if we won the game, lost the game, shots on goal, shots against … all that stuff. It's how you play the game. To me, it was not a good game for us." - Tortorella on the Blue Jackets' loss to the Lightning on Thursday.
"We're excited that he's out there with us [in practice]. He just brings his tenacious style of play. That's one thing about Boone. He drags guys into the fight with him with the way he plays. He's a reckless player, and that's a compliment that he can play that bang, crash style, but also has the skill to go along with it." - Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno on forward Boone Jenner.
Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson - Nick Shore - Tyler Toffoli
Andy Andreoff - Brooks Laich - Justin Auger
Michael Cammalleri - Adrian Kempe - Trevor Lewis
Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Oscar Fantenberg
Alec Martinez - Christian Folin
Out: Kurtis MacDermid, Nic Dowd
Injured reserve: Marian Gaborik (lower body), Kyle Clifford (upper body)
Artemi Panarin - Alexander Wennberg - Cam Atkinson
Boone Jenner - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Pierre-Luc Dubois - Brandon Dubinsky - Josh Anderson
Sonny Milano - Lukas Sedlak - Matt Calvert
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara
Out: Zac Dalpe, Scott Harrington, Jordan Schroeder (conditioning assignment)
Injured reserve: Gabriel Carlsson (upper body)
NOTE: This is how the Jackets skated during practice Friday. Tortorella said Jenner was officially still day-to-day, and didn't say whether he would be in the lineup.