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Preview: Blue Jackets vs. Canadiens

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

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By getting Nick Foligno back in the lineup last night in Boston, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards had another option if he wanted to mix up his forward lines. He started Foligno on the fourth line with Michael Chaput and Jared Boll, and there's a chance Foligno could move around again tonight when the Blue Jackets face the Montreal Canadiens.

The Blue Jackets, in their quest to score more goals and relieve some of the pressure being placed on their defense and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, have seen flashes of goal-scoring in recent games but are looking for consistency in that regard. And to be honest, what team in this league isn't trying to solve a similar problem? Matt Calvert and Boone Jenner appear to be a couple games away from returning, so in the meantime, the Jackets have to get more out of the guys currently in their lineup.

It's not yet known whether the Jackets will split goaltending duties tonight, but that's what the Canadiens are doing. Montreal plays tonight in Columbus and tomorrow in New York, and coach Michel Therrien is going to give Carey Price the start at Madison Square Garden. 

How could we forget the last time the Blue Jackets and Canadiens got together? 

Columbus had just dropped a hard-fought 2-1 game in Detroit - a game in which they felt they deserved better - and quickly found themselves down 3-0 to the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. The building was roaring, the Canadiens were flying up and down the rink and Bobrovsky was under siege...but a power play goal by Boone Jenner turned things around for the Blue Jackets and gave them a huge lift.

Ryan Johansen made it a one-goal game late in the second period, and Jenner added his second of the night early in the third to bring the Jackets back to all square. It had the makings of an unforgettable comeback for the Blue Jackets, who had taken control of the game after the midway point of the second period and put the Canadiens back on their heels. But the air quickly vacated the balloon when Tomas Plekanec scored on a 55-foot worm burner that gave Montreal a 4-3 lead in the final minute of regulation time, and Columbus couldn't find another equalizer.

The Blue Jackets lost in Montreal that night and were humbled two nights later in Washington, which prompted Richards to shake things up and give Curtis McElhinney a start the next night at home. Columbus went on a three-game winning streak to get back to .500, but it's been rough sailing ever since and the Jackets find themselves looking for another big win on home ice tonight.

Montreal is seeking redemption tonight, as well, after losing in a shootout to the Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning earlier in the week. The Canadiens held a high-tempo practice at their training facility in Brossard, Que. on Thursday and Therrien has emphasized the need for his team to play faster and more physical, something they did not do against Tampa. 

Budaj, who owns a career record of 7-5-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average against the Blue Jackets, said the Canadiens have to be ready to play a Columbus squad that will be desperate for points.

I’m just going to be ready. It’s a big game for us. Our last six games, we don’t really have a good record,” Budaj told the Canadiens' official website. "We need to improve. We know that we need to win. We know that we have to pick up points. Every point is huge. Columbus is a tough team to play against. They’ve got a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie (in Sergei Bobrovsky), so we’ve got to be ready.”



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