BLUE JACKETS VS. BLACKHAWKS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.
POST GAME LIVE
FINAL: JACKETS 3 | BLACKHAWKS 4
WATCH: 2nd period highlights | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Brandon Dubinsky 2nd intermission interview | LISTEN
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: Another wild period comes to a close, and yes, we're still tied up after two periods in Columbus. Goals by Ryan Johansen and Artem Anisimov - their 31st and 21st of the season, respectively - have the Jackets back even at 3-3 after briefly falling behind in the second period. Johansen scored just 36 seconds into the period on a nasty wrist shot that beat Raanta top shelf, and 15 seconds into the Jackets' most recent power play, Anisimov banked one in from the goal line to make it 3-3. Again, both teams have had their chances and have their eyes peeled for mistakes by the opposition, making this a really exciting game so far at Nationwide Arena. Shots are 26-21 favoring Chicago.
WATCH: Artem Anisimov's 2nd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Artem Anisimov ties it up in the 2nd with a PP goal! | LISTEN
WATCH: Jared Boll drops the gloves for the first time since his return | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Ryan Johansen's 2nd period goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Ryan Johansen's 2nd period goal | LISTEN
WATCH: 1st period highlights | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: R.J. Umberger's 1st intermission interview | LISTEN
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: An entertaining first period at Nationwide Arena, that's for sure, and the Blue Jackets are tied up 1-1 with the Blackhawks after 20 minutes. Both teams had some grade-A chances and the Blue Jackets had one to go ahead 2-0 late in the first before the Blackhawks went down the other way and tied it up. Artem Anisimov hung around in the high slot after Dubinsky and Atkinson did some hard work below the goal line, and it looked like Anisimov would have a wide open net - but he missed the target short side. Jeremy Morin scored on a heavy wrist shot far-side on Bobrovsky to make it 1-1, and that was all the scoring in the first period. Shots are 13-8 favoring the Jackets.
WATCH: Derek MacKenzie 1st period goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Derek MacKenzie opens up the scoring! | LISTEN
WATCH: The Blue Jackets Rink Report | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Pre-game interviews. | RICHARDS | LETESTU | MURRAY
UPDATE (11:45 AM): Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards just met the media with some pre-game updates. Here's a brief rundown...
- Nick Foligno has a lower body injury that will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the regular season. He suffered the injury late in last night's 2-0 win over the Flyers.
- Ryan Murray will return tonight after missing 16 games with a knee injury. The lineup hasn't been set (in terms of combinations and pairs), but we'll have an update on his defense partner in the warm-up.
- Sergei Bobrovsky makes the start tonight vs. Chicago.
- Matt Frattin draws back into the lineup tonight in the wake of Foligno's injury.
WATCH: James Wisniewski was on the NHL Network's Arena Cam last evening. | CLICK TO WATCH
MORNING SKATE: The Blue Jackets arrived back in Columbus late last night from Philadelphia after beating the Flyers 2-0 at Wells Fargo Center. They are not expected to hold a formal morning skate, but we'll have complete coverage for you here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Blackhawks, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets are thankful they have healthy competition with extra forwards and defensemen, but they'd prefer to not have to use with due to injury any more than they already have. After Nick Foligno left last night's game early, there stands a chance that the Jackets will have a slightly different look for tonight's game against the Blackhawks.
Corey Tropp is the logical choice to get back in the lineup should Foligno be ruled out, but the Blue Jackets have said they will re-evaluate Foligno upon returning to Columbus. They also might have rookie defenseman Ryan Murray back in the lineup, as Richards said earlier this week that either a Friday or Sunday return from a knee injury was possible.
No final decision has been announced, but don't be surprised if the Jackets go right back with Sergei Bobrovsky tonight against Chicago.
Every win is big at this time of the year, and the Blue Jackets secured two huge points last night in Philadelphia. But they had a short time to enjoy the victory, flying back to Columbus last night and preparing for Friday night's game against the Blackhawks.
Chicago faces a similiar situation, playing last night (at home) against Minnesota and picking up a 3-2 shootout victory before departing for Columbus. Both teams will be engaged in a battle of wills, each playing for crucial points in the playoff race that enters its final 10-day stretch.
The Blue Jackets, who put forth one of their poorest showings of the season in the last meeting against Chicago, will use that as motivation but they must also keep their "eyes on the prize," as Brandon Dubinsky said last night. They want to climb the standings as high as they can, and they're well within striking distance of third place in the Metropolitan Division after a 2-0 win over the Flyers.
They're facing a wounded Blackhawks team tonight but one that stil possesses a high level of skill and compete, worthy of its place among the NHL's elite teams even without the likes of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Chicago works as hard as it impresses with skill plays, and isn't afraid to play a hard-nosed game below the goal line much like the Jackets - and that will be something to watch for once the game gets underway.
Richards and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville have decisions to make with their lineups, and in particular, in goal; Bobrovsky could very well come right back and play again tonight as could Corey Crawford, who was excellent for the Blackhawks in their shootout win last night.
VS. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
SUNDAY, 6 P.M.