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Game Preview: Blue Jackets make first and only visit to Winnipeg

by Katie Foglia / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Winnipeg Jets’ last game was Dec. 6 against the Blackhawks in Chicago (a 3-1 loss), with their lone goal of the night coming from Chris Thorburn.

At 5:34 of the second, Thorburn tied the game for the Jets with a terrific individual effort, but Chicago added on two more in the third period to secure the win.

The Jets (13-13-2) face the Blue Jackets (11-16-2) on Thursday before returning back to Chicago on Friday for a re-match against the Blackhawks. After returning from Chicago, the Jets will play four of their next six games within the confines of MTS Centre.

The Jets are 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and currently sit sixth in the Central Division.

The Blue Jackets, on the other hand, are 4-4-2 in their last 10 and will return home to play the New York Islanders on Saturday and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 14 before embarking on a two-game road trip out west.

A few notes: Blue Jackets No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky left during the third period of Columbus’ game against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday with an undisclosed injury. Back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney stepped in between the pipes and is expected to start Thursday in Winnipeg.

On Wednesday, the Jackets added goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to the roster on emergency recall from Cleveland’s Lake Erie Monsters, the club’s AHL affiliate. Additionally, the Jackets activated right wing David Clarkson (back injury) off injured reserve.

Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is currently on IR with a significant knee sprain. Michael Hutchinson and rookie Connor Hellebuyck are currently holding down the fort in goal. 

The last time these two teams faced off was Oct. 31 at Nationwide Arena. Offensive struggles doomed the Blue Jackets in their 3-2 loss to the Jets.

Bryan Little opened the scoring for the Jets at 5:52 and Andrew Copp added on just 53 seconds later to give the visiting team a 2-0 lead. Brandon Saad put the Jackets on the board to bring it within 2-1 at 10:32.

But Blake Wheeler scored on the power play at 16:59 of the first, and that was the last goal Winnipeg would score. After a scoreless second period, Scott Hartnell notched one with 1:14 left in regulation, but it was too late for the Jackets to catch up.

The Blue Jackets are 10-9-0 in the all-time series against the Jets, but the Oct. 31 game marked Winnipeg's third straight win in the series. 

Blake Wheeler is having a pretty good start to the 2015-16 season. He currently leads the Jets in points with 27 (9 G, 18A). Out of those nine goals, two were scored on the power play, two were shorthanded goals and two were game-winning goals.  

The 29-year-old has spent six seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets organization. This season marks his ninth career NHL season with his first three spent with the Boston Bruins.

Wheeler was selected by Phoenix in the first round (fifth overall) during the 2004 NHL Draft, and was signed by Boston as a free agent in 2008.

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