BLUE JACKETS VS. PENGUINS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.
FINAL: JACKETS 1 | PENGUINS 2
WATCH: James Wisniewski 3rd period PP goal | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: James Wisniewski 3rd period PP goal | LISTEN
WATCH: 2nd period highlights | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Mark Letestu 2nd intermission. | LISTEN
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Penguins were the better team in the second period, and it was their turn to spend some time on the power play but the Jackets held strong in front of McElhinney. They killed off each of the Pittsburgh power play chances, which included a four-second 5-on-3 and subsequent power play with the long change working against them. The Blue Jackets pushed back in the final minutes and had a couple of looks at Fleury, but neither team has lit the lamp yet in this game. Shots are 21-18 in favor of the Blue Jackets after 40 minutes at Nationwide.
WATCH: 1st period highlights. | CLICK TO WATCH
GAME AUDIO: Matt Calvert 1st intermission interview. | LISTEN
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: An entertaining first period at Nationwide Arena just concluded in a scoreless tie between the Blue Jackets and Penguins, and the crowd has certainly been involved early on. The Jackets are off to a solid start, clearly trying to establish their game and get the puck deep into Pittsburgh territory and put pressure on their defense; they've drawn three power plays out of it, but have yet to convert. The good news? Columbus registered 13 shots in the first 20 minutes and they've had a few good chances against Marc-Andre Fleury. A key to the second period? Get even more pucks to the net but with heavy traffic en route.
WATCH: Richards pre-game | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Savard pre-game | CLICK TO WATCH
WATCH: Calvert pre-game | CLICK TO WATCH
UPDATE (10:35 AM): Here's tonight's Jackets lineup against the Penguins...
Jenner - Johansen - Horton
Calvert - Dubinsky - Atkinson
Umberger - Anisimov - Foligno
MacKenzie - Letestu - Comeau
Johnson - Prout
Tyutin - Wisniewski
Schultz - Savard
UPDATE (9:55 AM): The future is bright for the Jackets organization & its prospects lead the way | CLICK TO READ
UPDATE (9:50 AM): Ryan Murray is feeling good in knee injury rehab | CLICK TO READ
MORNING SKATE: After a couple of days off, the Blue Jackets are back on home ice to take on the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night in Columbus. The Jackets will hold a morning skate at 10 a.m. at Nationwide Arena, and we'll have complete coverage for you here at Game Day Central. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Penguins, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The significant "injury" news from the Blue Jackets over the past couple of days concerned the health of their starting goaltender. Sergei Bobrovsky had to leave Tuesday's win over the Red Wings after the first period due to illness, but he was feeling better after the game and is expected to be ready to go Friday.
With a back-to-back starting Friday (the Jackets travel to Carolina immediately following this game), there remains a possibility of lineup changes up front. We'll know more after Richards talks to the media after the morning skate. Also, it's possible that Nikita Nikitin rejoins the lineup after Nick Schultz skated on the third pair Tuesday night.
Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets don't need an bulletin board material for their fifth and final regular season meeting with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It's pretty cut and dry for them: Columbus is 0-4 against the Penguins this season and have lost twice both in Pittsburgh and at Nationwide Arena. Not only do they want to get on the board in th season series, they need to pick up points to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
They're facing a rival that hasn't been playing its best hockey of late, but one that is always a formidable opponent that matches up well against them. The Blue Jackets have struggled all season long to contain the Penguins' power play (taking fewer penalties will be a point of emphasis, no doubt) and to limit the number of scoring chances for Pittsburgh at even strength. Like they've done against other teams, the Blue Jackets want to spend more time in the Penguins' end and less time defending; if they're making the Penguins defend and work up the ice 200 feet, they're executing their game plan.
One key to the Blue Jackets' success on Friday night will be starting fast. The Penguins come into Columbus after playing a home game against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, and a quick start on home ice - similar to their start on Tuesday against Detroit - will go a long way toward a productive night against Pittsburgh.
Though they will be without the services of star center Evgeni Malkin for 2-3 weeks (foot injury), the Penguins have shown in the past that they have plenty of players capable of stepping up to fill the void. The Blue Jackets, who are quite familiar with the "offense by committee" approach, have had their share of troubles scoring goals of late but showed signs of breaking out of a long power play funk on Tuesday night against Detroit.
Columbus tallied two power play goals in the first period against the Red Wings, the first time they'd cashed in on the power play since the trade deadline.
AT CAROLINA HURRICANES
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.