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Game Day Hub: #CBJvsFLA

by BlueJackets.com Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

         

 

          



Curtis McElhinney Post Game

Brandon Dubinsky Post Game

Todd Richards Post Game


ANALYSIS: Thanks to a crafty goal by rookie Alex Wennberg, the Blue Jackets are tied 2-2 headed to the third period in Sunrise. It was a second period mostly controlled by the Panthers, who scored the go-ahead goal at 11:36 on a long slapper from rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was part of last weekend's All-Star festivities in Columbus. It didn't appear as though McElhinney ever saw it, but the Jackets did well to get right back to work and get the tying goal late in the period. Artem Anisimov did the hard work behind the net, flipping a mid-air pass out in front of the Panthers' net. Wennberg put a cross-checking motion on the puck, directing it in with less than 90 seconds to go - and the goal stood after a review with the NHL Situation Room in Toronto. Shots are 24-20 Panthers.

Jack Johnson Goal

Curtis McElhinney Save on Pirri

Alexander Wennberg Goal

ANALYSIS: Quality start on the road for the Jackets tonight, who were on the gas pedal from the outset and set the tone early. They accounted for nine of the game's first 13 shots and survived a pair of Florida power plays, all while doing a solid job in front of Curtis McElhinney, making his second start in place of the injured Sergei Bobrovsky. Ryan Johansen's been flying so far, and he's had a few real good chances to get Columbus on the board - but only Roberto Luongo stood in his way. Shots are even at 13-13 after 20 minutes.

Corey Tropp Pregame

Artem Anisimov Pregame

Todd Richards Pregame

UPDATE (11:40): Blue Jackets' television broadcaster Jody Shelley reports that Artem Anisimov will return to the lineup tonight for Columbus. Here are the lines and pairings at this morning's skate...

Foligno-Johansen-Atkinson

Hartnell-Dubinsky-Tropp

Wennberg-Anisimov-Anderson

Calvert-Letestu-Boll

Johnson-Savard

Connauton-Wisniewski

Tyutin-Prout

McElhinney

UPDATE (11:00): Florida media reports indicate that Roberto Luongo will start in goal for the Panthers tonight. The Panthers have also announced that forward Shawn Thornton has been activated from injured reserve and will make his return to the lineup tonight.

Greetings from sunny Florida!

While Columbusites deal with the freezing conditions of Snowmageddon 2015, there was no better time to hop a plane and pay a visit to Florida.

The Jackets will face the Panthers for the third and final time on Thursday night before going to Tampa Bay on Saturday. The Jackets are 2-0-0 in the Sunshine State this season, winning back-to-back contests against the Lightning and Panthers in early December. Columbus is also 2-0-0 against the Panthers, beating them twice in four days, before their road win in Tampa.

That three-game run of success against Florida foes was largely thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 109 saves over the course of three games. The Jackets won't have their No. 1 goaltender to lean on this time around with Bobrovsky out for the next several weeks with a groin issue. Instead they will rely on Curtis McElhinney, who made 25 saves in a strong effort to defeat the Capitals on Tuesday night. He'll likely match up against one of the league's best goaltenders in Roberto Luongo, who has carried a low-scoring Panthers team for much of this season. Luongo is having a bit of trouble himself lately, however, as the All-Star has lost five straight decisions and was pulled in the second period of Tuesday's loss to Detroit after giving up five goals.

Here are some story lines to sink into on this game day...

- The Blue Jackets have been on the right side of the streak against the Panthers. Their back-to-back wins against Florida in December snapped a six-game losing streak and launched a seven-game winning streak. The Panthers look to do a bit of streak-busting of their own on Thursday. They are winless against Columbus in their past 10 meetings.

- Columbus hockey fans have gotten a pretty decent look at phenom defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Ekblad scored a goal in his first game at Nationwide Arena, and he registered four assists in the All-Star Game last weekend. Ekblad is already having one of the best seasons ever by an 18 year-old defenseman in the NHL. He has 27 points, and with five more he would have the third-highest point total ever for an 18 year-old blue liner in a full season. The record is 66 points by Phil Housley in 1983. While that might be out of reach, Bobby Orr's second-best 41 points in 1967 is definitely on the radar.

- The Blue Jackets got some welcome news on Wednesday as both Artem Anisimov (torn tricep) and Ryan Murray (knee) were full participants in practice. Todd Richards said both were being evaluated by the doctors after practice and that both were expected to make the trip to Florida. It is possible that both could play on the two-game trip.

- Jeremy Morin, however, will not be heading to Florida. Morin was placed on injured reserve with an upper body injury and is out indefinitely.

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