BLUE JACKETS AT JETS
SATURDAY, 7 PM
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 6 | JETS 3
GOAL AUDIO: Letestu's second | Jenner's second | Foligno | Jenner penalty shot | Letestu (SHG) | Atkinson
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets likely wanted to flush that first period as quickly as possible, and they did just that (with some flair) in the middle frame. Dubinsky was called for tripping on the first shift of the second period, but it was the Blue Jackets who capitalized with a nifty shorthanded goal from Mark Letestu to draw even at 1-1. They weren't done there, though; Cam Atkinson finished off a beautiful passing play to notch his 13th of the season and give Columbus a 2-1 lead, and then goals from Foligno and Jenner (penalty shot) boosted the lead to 4-1. Toby Enstrom got one back for the Jets late in the second period to cut the lead in half.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Kind of a sleepy first period by both teams, but the Jets hit the snooze button before the Blue Jackets did. They had an early push and capitalized on a turnover, leading to Eric O'Dell's first NHL goal in the opening five minutes at MTS Centre. Winnipeg also had two power plays in the first period but the Blue Jackets' penalty kill was up to the task, but as a result, Columbus has spent a lot of time in its own zone. Key for the second period? Get more pucks deep (heard that before?), get to work on the forecheck and put some pressure on the Jets defense.
UPDATE (5:00 PM): It's now official - Curtis McElhinney gets the start between the pipes for the Blue Jackets tonight. He'll face Ondrej Pavelec for the Winnipeg Jets.
Other pre-game notes...
- Dalton Prout may dress as a forward and play some fourth-line minutes, Richards said. It's not a certainty but definitely possible.
- Matt Calvert, a native of Manitoba, plays his first NHL game in his home province tonight. He'll have 30-40 friends and family at MTS Centre. Richards said they're going to "turn him loose" for this game.
- Derek MacKenzie is back in the lineup after serving his three-game suspension this week.
PRE GAME AUDIO: Matt Calvert | Todd Richards
INSIDE EDGE: Jets broadcaster Brian Munz joins Bob McElligott to break down tonight's game!
UPDATE (2:30 PM): Here are tonight's projected lines and pairs for the Blue Jackets as they take on the Jets...
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Jenner - Anisimov - Horton
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
MacKenzie - Letestu - Tropp
Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Wisniewski
Nikitin - Savard
UPDATE (2:00 PM): Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards is scheduled to address the media a few hours prior to tonight's game at MTS Centre. No official word on the Jackets' starting goaltender has come yet, but we expect to have one after Richards speaks pre-game.
UPDATE (12:00 PM): Sergei Bobrovsky is one of three Jackets skating at MTS Centre this morning. That's usually an indicator he is not starting, so look for Curtis McElhinney to get the nod tonight in Winnipeg.
UPDATE (11:15 AM): Ondrej Pavelec is the Jets' starting goaltender tonight.
UPDATE (11:00 AM): The Jets are not going to have Evander Kane in their lineup for tonight's game, coach Claude Noel said this morning. He's still out with a hand injury. Winnipeg is going to employ Dustin Byfuglien as a forward in an attempt to jump start their group.
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets have arrived in very wintry Winnipeg, Manitoba. It's very cold, but hey, it's January. The Blue Jackets are not slated for a formal morning skate at MTS Centre, we'll have complete game day coverage for you right here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Jets, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets get another body back in their lineup tonight in Winnipeg. Derek MacKenzie, suspended three games for a hit on Phoenix's Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week, is eligible to return and will do so against the Jets.
Expect the same lineup (except swap Ryan Craig out for MacKenzie) as the Jackets used in last night's 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Richards said after the game that he had not decided on a starting goaltender for Saturday night in Winnipeg.
Stay tuned to this page for the latest throughout the day.
With a timely divisional victory last night against Carolina, the Blue Jackets held serve and kept themselves in the playoff race. The last thing they want to do is take a step back tonight in Winnipeg.
The last time these two teams met, the Jets played a responsible, opportunistic game against the Blue Jackets, who struggled to get anything going offensively and were frustrated by the strong play of goaltender Al Montoya. It was not the best performance from Columbus, but things have turned in their favor since the Christmas break ended.
Bobrovsky has been tremendous in the two games since returning from a groin injury, but do the Blue Jackets start him on back-to-back nights?
It's a possibility and Richards would not commit either way following Friday's game, but he does have Curtis McElhinney on the bench and McElhinney has played his best when spelling Bobrovsky with a spot start.
On the other hand, the Jets come into this game in an equally-desperate state.
They have not played since Tuesday and are seeking their first win in four games. Jets coach Claude Noel, looking for a spark, has shuffled the lines and - if only temporarily - has shifted defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to the right wing, where he played sporadically during his time with the Chicago Blackhawks
Evander Kane, who scored the game winner in the last meeting against the Blue Jackets on Dec. 16, is not expected to play tonight due to a hand injury.
VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
MONDAY, 7 P.M.