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Gameday: Blue Jackets vs. Hurricanes

by Michael Smith @MSmithCanes / CarolinaHurricanes.com

Game No. 41: halfway there!

This is the gameday hub, where you can find all the latest news and information related to tonight's Metropolitan Division match-up between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes in one handy location. Make this a regular stop throughout the day, as we update it with notes, videos, photos and more as puck drop draws near.

After an off day on Monday, the Hurricanes will get back on the ice at PNC Arena at 10:30 a.m. for their usual morning skate. We'll be rinkside then to bring you the latest.

Last updated: 4:05 p.m.


BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA TOOLS TO VICTORY
4:05 p.m.

Mike Maniscalco presents tonight's Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina three Tools to Victory.

Video: Tools to Victory: CBJ vs. CAR


IN THE ROOM
1:00 p.m.

Hear from forwards Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner, as they preview tonight's Blue Jackets-Hurricanes match-up.

Video: Elias Lindholm: "You always want to play"

Video: Jeff Skinner: "We've been pretty good at home"


LINEUP NOTES AND PETERS QUOTES
12:45 p.m.

Just after noon today, it was announced that Andrej Nestrasil had cleared waivers and been assigned to Charlotte and that Elias Lindholm had been activated from injured reserve. The newsy details of those transactions can be found here, and Lindholm, as expected, should play tonight. He'll skate on the right wing on a line with Jordan Staal and Brock McGinn.

"We'll go back to those guys, for sure. It's a hard line to play against," Peters said. "You've got two natural centers there, and Lindy can take faceoffs on the right side."

Here's more from the head coach.

On Lindholm's play prior to his injury in late December: "He was hard on pucks, he had a heavy stick, he was in on the forecheck and he was physical. We need as many guys with that type of mindset playing that way. He was very intelligent, he was hard on pucks and his work ethic was very high. I think he was playing, in my two-and-a-half years here, his best hockey."

On tonight's opponent: "All four lines, all three set of D, everything is done right in all three zones. A good team."

On facing Columbus three times in the next week-and-a-half: "I think it's great. We get them three out of our next six. ... I think it's an outstanding test, and we'll know what we are and where we stand going into the All-Star break."

Video: Bill Peters: "We need to be better than we were"


CANES LINES: MORNING SKATE
10:35 a.m.

As expected, Elias Lindholm seems ready to return from an upper-body injury. He's missed the team's last five games and will need to be activated from injured reserve today, but by all accounts, he'll be in tonight.

Skinner-Rask-Ryan
McGinn-Staal-Lindholm
Aho-Teravainen-Stempniak
Nordstrom-McClement-Stalberg

Hainsey-Faulk
Slavin-Pesce
Hanifin-Tennyson

Ward
Leighton

WIth Lindholm entering the lineup, waiver acquisition Ty Rattie looks to be a healthy extra. Ryan Murphy and Klas Dahlbeck will sit on the back-end.

Quotes and more coming from the room soon!

Tweet from @NHLCanes: Lindy leads the #Canes stretch. pic.twitter.com/qHD2W9KhyK


CANES SQUARE OFF AGAINST NHL'S TOP TEAM
6:00 a.m.

An important week of hockey at PNC Arena, which features four consecutive games against Eastern Conference opponents, continues tonight as the Carolina Hurricanes host the league-leading Columbus Blue Jackets.

Though this is the first meeting between these two Metropolitan Division foes this season, the Hurricanes and Blue Jackets will make up for lost time, squaring off three times in a 12-day stretch.

The Hurricanes catch the Jackets three games removed from a historic 16-game winning streak, which vaulted them to the top of the NHL standings. Columbus' streak was followed by back-to-back divisional losses before the team got back in the win column with a 2-1 overtime defeat of the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

The Canes scored an overtime win of their own on Sunday, as well, as Sebastian Aho's two-goal performance led the Hurricanes past the Bruins, 4-3.

"I'm feeling pretty good. Two points for the team," Aho said after receiving first-star honors. "I'm happy right now."

Making his 16th consecutive appearance between the pipes, his longest such stretch since 2011, Cam Ward made 32 saves in Sunday's overtime win, the Canes' second victory in extra hockey against Boston this season.

"Wardo battled in there. There were a lot of rebounds and deflections. I thought Wardo did a real good job," head coach Bill Peters said. "He made some big saves and some big saves at key times."

Helped along by a 12-4-1 record at home this season (11-1-1 in their last 13 games), the Hurricanes sit five points back of a wild card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a pair of games in hand - and also a few teams to climb past in the standings.

"We're going to dial in and push hard," Peters said. "We need to point some points in the bank here at home."

Forward Elias Lindholm is nearing a return from an upper-body injury that has sidelined him for five games. The Hurricanes placed forward Andrej Nestrasil on waivers on Monday. Nestrasil, who has dressed just twice since Dec. 10, could be assigned to Charlotte if he clears, in either case clearing a spot on an active roster that was maxed out at 23 players.

CANESPR NOTES: At 6:06, the Hurricanes' penalty minutes per game average is the lowest among all NHL teams this season. That's a plus, because the Blue Jackets' power play is the best in the NHL, converting at a 26.7 percent clip. … The Canes have earned at least a point in 10 of their last 11 meetings with the Blue Jackets (8-1-2), and they have won four of their last five games against Columbus.


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