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Columbus Plays Blues for Second Consecutive Game

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets may be out of postseason contention, but that hasn't been evident by their strong play lately. The St. Louis Blues could use a similar run.

The Blue Jackets go for their fourth straight victory when they visit the Blues on Tuesday as the Central Division foes conclude their season series in the finale of a home-and-home set.

Both teams already have been eliminated from the playoff race, but they remain in a battle for third place in the division. St. Louis (31-32-12) has a five-point lead over Columbus (31-37-7) for the spot, but the Blue Jackets have been hot lately.

They are outscoring opponents 11-4 in three straight wins, including a 4-1 victory over the Blues on Sunday. Columbus Jason Chimera had a career-high three assists to boost his point total to 32 this season, also a career best, while Manny Malhotra had a goal and an assist.

Fredrik Modin scored his 20th goal of the season for his 400th career point.

"It is always nice to play good hockey and, even though the playoffs are out of the picture, it is good to know in the back of your head for the start of next season that we can play well and put some wins together," Modin said. "And that is what we are looking to do, to build off this and play solid hockey for the rest of the year."

Fredrik Norrena has certainly been playing solid hockey, posting a 1.30 goals-against average during the Blue Jackets' winning streak. The rookie netminder made 25 saves in his ninth straight appearance on Sunday and is 2-0-2 with a 2.17 GAA versus the Blues this season.

"I was feeling really confident out there, had a good feeling in my body," Norrena said.

Blues top netminder Manny Legace is out indefinitely with a knee injury and backup Curtis Sanford is day-to-day with a groin injury. Jason Bacashihua got the start Sunday and made 22 saves, dropping to 1-5-2 with a 3.26 GAA in 13 appearances this season.

He has struggled even more versus the Blue Jackets, going 0-3-0 with a 4.03 GAA in four career starts. Bacashihua didn't get much offensive support in his last showing as leading scorer Doug Weight scored St. Louis' only goal on Sunday.

It was the only power-play goal in the last 30 chances for the Blues, who have lost three of their last four games and are 2-4-2 in their last eight.

"They deserved to win obviously," said Blues coach Andy Murray, whose team is opening a three-game homestand. "They played better than we did. I think our whole team was not as good as we needed to be. We're trying to get better everyday and today we didn't make a step ahead, we kind of went back."

St. Louis has won four of seven meetings between the teams this season, including three in shootouts.

The Blue Jackets may be without defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who is day-to-day with a hip pointer.


- Associated Press

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