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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Hurricanes

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets



POST GAME CONTEST: It's the holiday season and we're celebrating a HUGE #CBJ win in Raleigh! One lucky winner (randomly selected) will win a copy of EA Sports NHL 14. Sound good? Let's do this...

Answer the following trivia question and tweet us at @BlueJacketsNHL using #CBJ in your reply.

Q: With tonight's 4-3 win, how many consecutive games have the Blue Jackets won in Carolina? 

How could we forget Johansen's 15th of the season, to tie the game? Here it is.

WATCH: Jack Skille goes top shelf for the game-winning goal in Raleigh!

WATCH: Corey Tropp's first goal as a Blue Jacket gives the visitors a 2-1 lead in the second period.

SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: A better period for the Blue Jackets, to be sure, but this upcoming third period has a lot riding on it. They're tied 2-2 with the Hurricanes after 40 minutes at PNC Arena in a game that really picked up physically in the second period, and a goal by Corey Tropp - his first as a Jacket - momentarily gave Columbus a 2-1 lead. But penalties to Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski, the second one a very questionable call for delay of game, allowed Carolina to tie it up on Skinner's second goal of the game just three seconds into the 5-on-3. Shots are 17-17 through two periods and it's been a fairly even game, but expect to see a high-intensity third period between a pair of clubs that desperately need points.

The Blue Jackets had a strong road period going for about 17-18 minutes, but they've run into some penalty issues so far in Raleigh. They killed off the first Canes power play attempt and were nearly clear of the second one, but Jeff Skinner got enough room off the face-off to snap a quick shot past Mike McKenna to tie the game late in the period. Columbus opened the scoring, though, on the 10th goal for Artem Anisimov and one that set up by a great hustle play from Cam Atkinson. Atkinson beat two Canes to a loose puck behind the net and made a quick centering pass to Anisimov, who beat Justin Peters high to the glove side. Keys to this game moving forward? Keep it 5-on-5 and don't give the Canes any extra opportunities. The more the Blue Jackets can use their forecheck in this game, the better. 

Artem Anisimov cashes in a great feed from Cam Atkinson to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead!

WATCH: Corey Tropp, playing very well of late, chats with Bobby Mac after the morning skate.

WATCH: Derek MacKenzie talks about his return to the lineup for a big game against Carolina.

WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards shares this thoughts on tonight's game in Raleigh.

PRE GAME AUDIO: Derek MacKenzie | Corey Tropp | Todd Richards 

UPDATE (11:45 AM):
Here are the projected lines and pairs for the Blue Jackets tonight vs. Carolina...

Dubinsky - Anisimov - Atkinson
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Comeau - MacKenzie - Skille
Jenner - Letestu - Tropp

Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Wisniewski
Nikitin - Savard


UPDATE (11:35 AM):
The Canes are expected to start Justin Peters between the pipes tonight, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer. The Blue Jackets will counter with Curtis McElhinney.

UPDATE (11:30 AM):
Canes coach Kirk Muller said defenseman Jay Harrison will miss tonight's game with an upper body injury. 

UPDATE (11:00 AM):
The Hurricanes are not holding a morning skate today, and that's been pretty standard for them over the past couple of months. It's more superstition than anything, as the Hurricanes have seen some success when they don't conduct a formal morning skate. Their head coach, Kirk Muller, will be addressing the media shortly at PNC Arena.

As the schedule moves along, the games only get more important. Such is the case Monday night, when the Blue Jackets take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh in a huge Metropolitan Division contest. The Blue Jackets are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate at PNC Arena, and we'll have complete coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Hurricanes, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!

Asked if he's ever experienced a rash of injuries like the Blue Jackets are currently dealing with, Richards shook his head and laughed after Sunday's optional skate in Columbus. After losing two more forwards (Gaborik and Calvert) in their 6-3 win over the Flyers, the Blue Jackets are expected to have two forwards return Monday night.

Derek MacKenzie and Jack Skille will be back in the lineup and add some depth to Columbus' forward group, meaning Mark Letestu might move up the lineup - but that is just a guess at this point. Mike McKenna is

It's late December, but Monday's game marks the first of five meetings this season between the Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes.

Welcome to your new Metropolitan Division rivalry, indeed. 

The good news, perhaps, is that these teams won't need as much time getting acquainted since they saw each other during the preseason. But that's old news, too, since both clubs have played 35+ games and are nearing the midway point of a roller coaster season both overall and within the division.

And that's what makes Monday night so high-stakes. Both Columbus and Carolina, currently on the outside looking in at the Metro's three guaranteed playoff spots, have ground to make up and they're battling against each other to leap frog teams and get into the top three.

Not only is a victory important, but more so, a regulation victory to ensure that the winning team is able to climb the ladder.

Carolina, coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday night, owns a dead-even home/road split (7-7-4) on the year and has fought inconsistency just like the Blue Jackets have. They've gotten a rejuvenated effort from Jeff Skinner, who has recorded 21 points in 25 games this season despite some injury troubles early on. 

The Blue Jackets picked up a pair of mega-important divisional points in their win over Philadelphia, and they can really help themselves with two more at PNC Arena - a building in which they have played well throughout their franchise history. 



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