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Preview: Blue Jackets hope to douse Flames for fifth straight victory

Calgary riding red-hot Gaudreau, who has 19 points in 10-game point streak

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

GAME 22: FLAMES (12-8-0) AT BLUE JACKETS (13-7-1)

NATIONWIDE ARENA, 7 P.M., WEDNESDAY

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO/FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 FM & BLUEJACKETS.COM

Two of the hottest teams in the NHL will hit the ice Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena, as the Blue Jackets look to upend the Calgary Flames and push their winning streak to a season-high five in a row.

Columbus's four-game streak is its second of that length already, and the Blue Jackets just reached the quarter-pole mark of the season. Extending it to five will be a challenge against Calgary, which has won its past two in a row and is 7-3-0 in its past 10 games.

The Flames' top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Micheal Ferland are racking up goals and points in bunches recently, including Gaudreau riding a career-high 10-game point streak.

"It's just understanding the type of team you're playing against," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said Tuesday, after practice. "They have a lot of similar traits as us. You've got the high-powered offense, the great defensemen and a good goalie. So, I'm expecting a great matchup and an exciting game because of the talent out there. We look forward to playing these guys."

It should be an interesting coaching matchup, as well.

Columbus coach John Tortorella hired Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan as an assistant on his staff with the Vancouver Canucks in 2013-14, and they coached together that season. Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan, who won the Stanley Cup the past two seasons, was the other assistant on that staff.

"We went through some philosophy things, the three of us, when we were going through the ups and downs in Vancouver, and I do think it made all three of us better coaches going through some of that stuff," Tortorella said. "[Gulutzan is] very intellectual about the game, and that's where the game is going. A lot of different things are being brought into coaching, and I think 'Gully' is on top of those."

SERIES RECORD

2017-18 Season: (0-0-0). This is the first of two games in the season series. The Blue Jackets will visit Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Mar. 29 for the finale.

All-time: 30-19-6 overall; 17-7-4 at Nationwide Arena

"BY THE NUMBERS"

  • 4: Consecutive games Columbus has led 1-0 starting the third period.
  • 5: Consecutive games the Blue Jackets have scored the game's first goal.
  • 73.8: Percentage of shot attempts taken by the Blue Jackets when the second line of Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson were on the ice during 5-on-5 against the Sabres on Monday.
  • 400: Cam Atkinson will play his 400th NHL game when he takes the ice Wednesday against the Flames. He will be the seventh player in Blue Jackets history to play that many games for the franchise.
  • 15,373: Minutes Sergei Bobrovsky has played in net in 264 career games with the Blue Jackets, which is the most in franchise history. Bobrovsky passed Marc Denis (15,259) last week for the top spot.

WHO'S HOT

Flames: Johnny Gaudreau is on a career-high 10-game point streak, including a goal and assist in Calgary's 4-1 victory Monday at the Washington Capitals. He has 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in the streak.

Blue Jackets: Artemi Panarin has four goals in the last seven games, including one in each of the past two contests. Panarin leads Columbus in scoring with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists).

EYES ON: THE FLAMES

  • Everything revolves around Gaudreau, who is also on the longest goal streak of his career (six games) and has five straight multi-point outings. He's the first Flames player to accomplish that latter feat since 2002, when Jarome Iginla did it. Calgary is 7-3-0 during Gaudreau's 10-game point streak and 4-2-0 during his goal streak.
  • The Flames went 3-for-3 in penalty kills in their 4-1 victory Monday against the Capitals, but they're still ranked 31st in the NHL with a 71.8 percent success rate. Calgary is slightly better killing penalties on the road, ranked 22nd (73.1 percent), but it's only marginally better.
  • Gaudreau isn't the only one on the Flames' top line who's red hot. Sean Monahan has four goals and two assists in the past two games, including a hat trick and a four-point game Saturday in Calgary's 5-4 win at the Philadelphia Flyers. Micheal Ferland, the right wing on that line, had a six-game point streak end Monday in Washington, and had a five-game goal streak snapped in Detroit.
  • Mike Smith, who made 29 saves against the Capitals, is expected to make his second start in a row after missing a game Nov. 13 with an upper-body injury.

EYES ON: THE BLUE JACKETS

  • Defenseman Zach Werenski missed practice Tuesday at Nationwide Arena, but Tortorella said it was just a maintenance day off. Werenski is expected to play. Center Alexander Wennberg didn't practice again, has missed three games with an upper-body injury and remains day-to-day.
  • The Blue Jackets will get center Lukas Sedlak back from an ankle injury that cost him 13 games. Sedlak injured the ankle in practice Oct. 23 and was given a return timetable of approximately six weeks. Wednesday will be four weeks and two days since the injury occurred. Sedlak said his straight-ahead skating has return to full strength, but still feels slight effects of the injury in other facets of the game, such as puck battles along the boards.
  • Tortorella said Bobrovsky will get the lion's share of work in net right now, and he's expected to make his sixth straight start. That would extend his season high, which he set Monday in Buffalo. Bobrovsky is 4-1-0 in his past five starts with a 1.18 goals-against average, .962 save percentage and one shutout.
  • Tortorella said Tuesday that he might consider moving captain Nick Foligno back to the wing, from center, once Wennberg returns to the lineup. That would give Columbus a center lineup of Wennberg, Brandon Dubinsky, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Sedlak. It could also free up Foligno to look for more offense. He doesn't have a point in the past 12 games, which ties his NHL career high.

QUOTABLES

"Wherever I'm needed. Right now, it's center, so I'm just focusing on that, but wherever the team thinks is the right fit, I'm happy to do it. Just like when I went to center. Whatever they think is necessary to help our team and be a good lineup, I'm all for it." - Blue Jackets center Nick Foligno on the possibility of moving back to the wing this season.

"It wasn't that kind of motivation. I was just so … mad. I was so mad. I think that gave me a big push." - Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara, who didn't make the NHL roster out of training camp, on the driving factor in his play since being recalled Oct. 15 from Cleveland of the American Hockey League.

"I knew it was my 400th [game]. It's one of those milestones where it's pretty special. Hopefully I get a leather jacket. I know [Brandon Dubinsky] and [Jack Johnson] said when they hit 400, they got those nice [letterman's] jackets, so I'm going to be asking around and say, 'Hey, I want a jacket.'" - Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson, on playing his 400th NHL game Wednesday.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

FLAMES

Forward lines (12)

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Micheal Ferland

Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik

Sam Bennett - Mark Jankowski - Jaromir Jagr

Kris Versteeg - Freddie Hamilton - Troy Brouwer

Defense pairings (6)

Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton

T.J. Brodie - Travis Hamonic

Brett Kulak - Michael Stone

Goaltenders

Mike Smith

Eddie Kack

Others: Matt Stajan, Curtis Lazar, Matt Bartkowski

Injured reserve: None

 

BLUE JACKETS

Forward lines (12)

Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Josh Anderson

Tyler Motte - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand

Jordan Schroeder - Lukas Sedlak - Markus Hannikainen

Defense pairings (6)

Zach Werenski - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Ryan Murray - Markus Nutivaara

Goaltenders

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Others: Scott Harrington, Sonny Milano

Injured reserve: Matt Calvert (upper body)

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