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Preview: Atkinson activated, could help Jackets as they look to rebound

Veteran forward could provide a spark for Columbus, which lost Monday in New York.

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

 

GAME 16: PREDATORS (7-5-2) AT BLUE JACKETS (9-5-1)

NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M., TUESDAY

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

NEW YORK - The Blue Jackets needed some good news following a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday at Madison Square Garden, and got it Tuesday.

Cam Atkinson, who's missed the past four games with a lower-body injury, was activated off injured reserve and is eligible to play against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena.

Atkinson had five points (four goals, one assist) in 11 games prior to his injury, which first became an issue in the Blue Jackets' 4-1 loss Oct. 28 against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

"It does matter when your teammate gets injured," Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin told Russian reporters Monday in New York. "No matter who it is. Calvert got injured as well. Not sure what happened with him, but it all happens. As far as I know, Cam will be playing in the next game, so everything will be all right."

Columbus had a victory within its grasp against the Rangers, but it got away after the Jackets took three penalties in the third period and allowed three power-play goals.

The Rangers won 5-3, overcoming deficits of 2-0 and 3-2, and handed the Blue Jackets their second straight loss to conclude a three-game road trip. Coach John Tortorella was not pleased with the lack of discipline his team showed in taking three penalties in the third period of a close game.

"We took stupid penalties," he said. "You don't win hockey games taking penalties like that in the third period."

Columbus went 1-1-1 on the trip, and had been unbeaten in regulation for three straight games (2-0-1) prior to the loss in New York.

Despite the loss, the Blue Jackets are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, tied in points (19) with the first-place New Jersey Devils.

They're looking to get back on track against the Nashville Predators, who are concluding a four-game road trip and have a couple of familiar faces in their lineup. Former Blue Jackets Ryan Johansen and Scott Hartnell return to Columbus for their only scheduled trip to Nationwide Arena this season, and both play on the Predators' top line.

Each has seven points, but Hartnell (four goals, three assists) has a minus-8 plus/minus rating and Johansen, who was traded for Seth Jones, is seeking his first goal.

One key player who's not expected to dress for the Predators is newly-acquired center Kyle Turris, who was acquired Sunday from the Ottawa Senators in a three-way trade that also included the Colorado Avalanche.

Turris is going through the immigration process to obtain a U.S. work visa, which is expected to delay his Nashville debut until Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, have three key forwards on injured reserve: Cam Atkinson (lower body), Matt Calvert (upper body) and Lukas Sedlak (ankle). Of the three, Atkinson is likely the closest to returning. He's still listed as day-to-day, while Calvery and Sedlak are expected to miss a few weeks.

SERIES RECORD

2017-18 Season: (0-0-0). This is the first of two games this season. The Blue Jackets will play the Predators on April 7 at Bridgestone Arena.

All-time: 25-46-11 overall; 17-18-5 at Nationwide Arena

"BY THE NUMBERS"

  • 2: Number of games the Blue Jackets were held to less than 30 shots on goal in the season's first 15 games, including Monday against the Rangers. Columbus finished with 25 shots, ending a streak of 11 straight games with at least 30.
  • 9: Active players who've logged at least 1,200 NHL games, with forward Scott Hartnell, a former Blue Jacket, being the latest to reach that milestone this past Friday.
  • 38: Number of seconds into the second period Monday at Madison Square Garden it took Artemi Panarin to break a 10-game stretch without a goal, the longest of his career.
  • 44: Number of shutouts Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has in his NHL career, which is tied with former Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff for first all-time among Finnish-born goaltenders.
  • 71: Percentage of 5-on-5 shot attempts taken by the Blue Jackets in the third period Monday against the Rangers. Columbus fired off 20 shot attempts to New York's eight, but the Rangers outscored the Jackets 3-1 in goals in the period by going 3-for-3 on power plays.

EYES ON: THE PREDATORS

  • Once Turris gets his immigration situation figured out, he will join the Predators as their second-line center and play on the second power-play unit. That means he will get a lot of even-strength ice time with Filip Forsberg, the Predators' leading scorer with 14 points (eight goals, six assists). During power plays, he'll likely shift with Kevin Fiala, Craig Smith, Mattias Ekholm and Viktor Arvidsson.
  • Nashville hasn't played since Saturday, when Arvidsson scored in overtime at Staples Center to defeat the Los Angeles Kings. The Predators will wrap up a four-game road trip that has spanned seven days. They're 2-1-0 in the first three games. Nashville is among seven Western Conference teams with 16 points, but holds the West's second wild-card position over the Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks based on points percentage and wins excluding shootout victories (regulation plus overtime wins total).
  • The Predators have scored seven 5-on-5 goals in their past two games to break out of a season-long funk that still has them ranked 30th in the NHL in that category. Their hope is the addition of Turris will help spark the offense from top to bottom, giving coach Peter Laviolette more flexibility to design his lineup.

EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS

  • Tortorella hasn't been able to roll four forward lines in many games this season, and the same was true Monday in New York. The fourth line, which was comprised of rookie Sonny Milano, Zac Dalpe and Markus Hannikainen played sparingly against the Rangers, with Milano's 6:58 of ice time the most of the three. Prior to that game, Tortorella said Hannikainen would absorb some of the role Calvert played as a two-way forward and penalty killer. While he did play 1:16 while shorthanded, Hannikainen logged only 6:36 of ice time overall.
  • Tortorella's goaltending choice won't be known until he meets with reporters prior to the game. He doesn't reveal them before game day. Ordinarily, you'd think Joonas Korpisalo would get back in net to give Sergei Bobrovsky a night off in the finale of a back-to-back, but Tortorella has said to not make that assumption with his team. Coming off losses in the past two games, he might opt to keep Bobrovsky in net. Stay tuned.
  • Panarin and Seth Jones are tied for the team scoring lead, with both having 12 points through the first 15 games. Jones had an assist Monday against the Rangers, and has seven points (two goals, five assists) in the past seven games.
  • Josh Anderson continues to show he's much more than just a big body that can skate a little bit. Anderson's goal Monday in New York was his team-high sixth of the season, and he has seven points (five goals, two assists) in the Blue Jackets' past eight games.

QUOTABLES

"Stupid. We don't deserve to win [that game]. I don't know. I don't know what happened." - Tortorella, following the Blue Jackets' 5-3 loss Monday to the Rangers, when they took three penalties in the third period and allowed power-play goals after all three

"We've got to try and have a short memory. We've got a good Nashville team [up next], and we've got to be ready to come back and have a good kill because we're certainly probably going to take a couple [penalties Monday]." - Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky

"I don't think we've ever really had this type of depth, flexibility and versatility in our history." - Predators general manager David Poile, on Nashville having six players with center experience following the Turris trade

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS

Forward lines

Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Viktor Arvidsson

Filip Forsberg - Colton Sissons - Craig Smith

Kevin Fiala - Calle Jarnkrok - Miikka Salomaki

Cody McLeod - Fredrick Gaudreau - Austin Watson

Defense pairings 

Roman Josi - Mattias Ekholm

Alexei Emelin - P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin - Yannick Weber

Goaltenders

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Out: Pontus Aberg, Kyle Turris, Anthony Bitetto.

Injured reserve: Ryan Ellis (knee), Nick Bonino (lower body)

BLUE JACKETS

Forward lines

Artemi Panarin - Alexander Wennberg - Tyler Motte

Pierre-Luc Dubois - Nick Foligno - Josh Anderson

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Sonny Milano - Zac Dalpe - Markus Hannikainen

Defense pairings

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara or Gabriel Carlsson

Goaltenders

Joonas Korpisalo

or

Sergei Bobrovsky

Out: Gabriel Carlsson or Markus Nutivaara, Scott Harrington

Injured reserve: Cam Atkinson (lower body), Lukas Sedlak (ankle), Matt Calvert (upper body)

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