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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets vs. Senators

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio | LISTEN: 97.1 The Fan

RJ Umberger gets the Jackets on the board with a power play goal in the third period.

The score held through the second period and it remains 2-0 Ottawa through 40 minutes, but the Blue Jackets are still in it with one period to play. Columbus leads in shots by a 26-17 margin and did a nice job killing a couple Senators power plays in the middle frame, but they're tasked with a giant third period coming up. Down a pair on home ice, you can expect the Jackets to test Lehner from everywhere and try to squeeze one by the lanky Swedish netminder. He's been darn good for Ottawa but the Blue Jackets have missed on some great chances. Much like the opening period, the Blue Jackets had some established zone time and came up with some sustained o-zone shifts, but one thing was missing...a goal (or goals). 

Hard to believe, really, that the Blue Jackets could dominate a period much like they did in the first and come away trailing 2-0. But that's the case tonight at Nationwide Arena and they will have to pick themselves up once again and chip away at the Senators lead that was created by two mistakes; a slow change allowed Erik Karlsson to walk into the zone against a tired Jackets defense, and he ripped a wrister over Curtis McElhinney for his fifth of the year at 14:51. Columbus, which out-shot Ottawa by a 13-8 margin in the period, recorded six shots on its first power play chance but couldn't beat Robin Lehner, who was very good. Clarke MacArthur scored a big goal for the Senators with 3.9 seconds left in the first, taking advantage of an ill-timed pinch by the Jackets at the offensive blueline. 

UPDATE (6:20 PM): Pre-game warmups are about to get underway in just a few minutes. The Jackets' lines and pairs are expected to be as follows...

Anisimov - Dubinsky - Gaborik

Atkinson - Johansen - Umberger

Letestu - MacKenzie - Comeau

Collins - Chaput - Boll




Curtis McElhinney is your starter in goal.

UPDATE (4:00 PM): Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson chatted with Jackets TV about tonight's game against Ottawa. Here's what he had to say...

UPDATE (2:15 PM):
For your viewing pleasure, here's the latest edition of the "Rink Report" with Bob McElligott and Jody Shelley. Check out their preview of tonight's game...

UPDATE (1:30 PM):
It's contest time! We're giving away two (2) tickets to tonight's game for one lucky winner and a guest to sit in the #CBJ Social Station - as always, we have a trivia question for you to answer...

Question: Former Jackets defenseman Marc Methot wore No. 3 while he was in Columbus; prior to Methot, who was the last CBJ player to wear that number? 

Tweet us at @BlueJacketsNHL using #CBJSocial and your answer...we'll randomly select a winner!

UPDATE (1:15 PM): And here's video from our chat with Marc Methot.

UPDATE (12:55 PM):
Senators coach Paul MacLean met the media after his team took the ice this morning. Here's a sample of what he had to say before tonight's game...

On the Blue Jackets: "They're a hard-working team from what I can see. They have depth at forward and they've got a lot of size to their group. Gaborik's still a pretty good player in my mind, and this Johansen kid looks like a really good young player, as well. Their defense has some size and mobility, so they're going to be a handful."

On the condition of Craig Anderson: "It's just like yesterday; I think he was able work out today (back in Ottawa). When we get home, we'll see how he is but it's as positive as it can be right now."

UPDATE (12:15 PM): We talked with former Blue Jackets defenseman Marc Methot after the Senators' morning skate. He said it was weird to walk down to the other dressing room when the team arrived this morning, but he's excited to be back and looking forward to tonight's game. We'll have video of Methot's meeting with the media shortly, but here are some snippets..

- Methot said he found himself rooting for the Blue Jackets as they made a push for the playoffs last season. Mostly, he said, he wanted it for the fans and the city of Columbus because "they've stood by this team for so long" and they deserve to see the team break into the postseason again. 

- Methot joked that now the Blue Jackets are in the Eastern Conference, he might have to reconsider pulling for them on occasion.

- Life has been good for Methot since joining his hometown team in July 2012. He's played a lot with Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, but tonight, he'll be paired with rookie defenseman Mark Borowiecki on the back end for Ottawa. Methot said he's been sticking to what got him to the NHL, and that's playing a strong two-way game with an emphasis on his own end.

- For those expecting an offensive outburst or little extra gumption on the rush from Methot, don't hold your breath, he said. You won't be seeing No. 3 in white rushing the puck any more than he normally does; the Senators are trying to break out of a funk themselves and are keyed in on tonight's game in Columbus.

UPDATE (11:45 AM): Here's video from Richards' pre-game media scrum...

UPDATE (11:15 AM):
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards just met with the media after the morning skate. Here's a summary of his media session...

- McElhinney is the confirmed starter tonight. The extra start for McElhinney is both a reward for his play (Richards really liked his two starts against Vancouver and Pittsburgh) and also gives Bobrovsky a chance to work on his game. 

- Richards said there are similarities between the current play of Bobrovsky and what he went through early last season when the team went back-and-forth between Bobrovsky and Steve Mason. He said Bobrovsky "knows where he's at" with his game and the extra work time should be a benefit.

- Nick Foligno will not play tonight, Richards said, as he's dealing with a personal matter.

UPDATE (10:50 AM): Sean Collins will play tonight vs. Ottawa and skate on the fourth line with Jared Boll and Michael Chaput. Doesn't appear that Nick Foligno will play against his former team tonight.

UPDATE (10:20 AM): Curtis McElhinney was first off the ice this morning. Looks as if he will start in goal for the Blue Jackets tonight and face one of his former teams.

UPDATE (10:15 AM): No clear indication yet, but Sergei Bobrovsky is in the usual staters' net this morning.

UPDATE (10:00 AM): The Jackets are on the ice for their morning are today's lines...

Anisimov - Dubinsky - Gaborik
Umberger - Johansen - Atkinson
MacKenzie - Letestu - Comeau
Collins - Chaput - Boll

* Nick Foligno is not on the ice this morning. We'll hope to get an update from Todd Richards after the skate.

The Blue Jackets are scheduled for a 10 AM morning skate on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. Rob Mixer from will be on-hand to provide the latest updates on starting goaltenders, lines and pairs, and quotes from the locker room. Stay tuned to Game Day Central for the latest throughout the day!

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards made a couple of lineup changes prior to Saturday night's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins: Nikita Nikitin returned for his first game since Oct. 19 and Curtis McElhinney made his second start of the season. Whether those changes remain in place for Tuesday's game against the Ottawa Senators won't be known until at least Tuesday morning, but the Blue Jackets did receive another strong performance from their backup goaltender, and Richards said it has earned him consideration for more playing time. 

The Senators come into Columbus following a 4-3 shootout loss at the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata, Ont. on Sunday, but that wasn't the most disturbing part of their afternoon. Dallas rookie Valeri Nichushkin collided with Senators goalie Craig Anderson early in overtime, and Anderson was taken off the ice on a stretcher but was feeling much better after the game. According to the team, Anderson is not expected to play Tuesday night in Columbus, meaning youngster Robin Lehner is Ottawa's likely starter.

These two teams haven't met since a 4-3 win by the Senators in October 2011 - and it was a devastating loss for the Blue Jackets, who held a 3-2 lead in the final minute of regulation but came up empty-handed. Jason Spezza tied the game, and then Milan Michalek scored the game winner in the dying seconds of regulation on the power play.

The situation for the Blue Jackets is not unlike what they faced two weeks ago: coming off a four-game losing streak, their only choice was to re-group and re-focus for a key stretch of home games that could get them back on track.

Wins over Vancouver, New Jersey and Toronto pulled the Jackets to .500 (5-5-0), but in the week since, they've dropped three straight including a back-to-back series to the Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend. Columbus was outscored 7-2 in the two-game set and never held a lead, and Saturday's loss was particularly frustrating because they never really tested Penguins rookie goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who made 19 saves to record his first career shutout.

Up next on the schedule is Tuesday's game against the Senators, a team that has scuffled in recent weeks but rallied late in Sunday's game to earn a point. Bobby Ryan, the key component of a major offseason trade made by Senators GM Bryan Murray, scored the tying goal with nine seconds left to force overtime against Dallas.

Ottawa has won three of its past 10 contests and has not played well at home, but after opening the season on a long road trip, they're pretty accustomed to playing away from the Canadian capital. 

One of the storylines in this first meeting of the season between Ottawa and Columbus revolves around a trade made in the summer of 2012, when the Jackets sent defenseman Marc Methot to his hometown Senators in exchange for Nick Foligno, who has become a key part of the dressing room in Columbus. Both players will play their first game against the clubs that drafted them on Tuesday night.

Most importantly for the Blue Jackets is putting the Pittsburgh series in the past and keying on this week of games. After hosting the Senators on Tuesday, the Jackets welcome the New York Rangers on Thursday (anyone know of some things we could write about for that one?) and the New York Islanders on Saturday night. It's an important part of their schedule and one that, if successful, could propel them back into the division playoff race.




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