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At the Rink: Avalanche at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella joked he doesn't know how to say Markus Hannikainen's name, but he likes what little he has seen of the Finnish rookie left wing.

Hannikainen will play his second NHL game when the Blue Jackets host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET, FS-O, ALT).

"I don't know how to pronounce his name so his name from now on is 'Heineken.' He's in," Tortorella said in announcing that Hannikainen (hah-nih-KAY-nehn) would remain in the lineup.

It will also be a good Saturday for another Finn.

Rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo -- who for weeks Tortorella referred to as the "the kid" but now it's "Korpy" -- will make his second straight start, even though No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was activated from Injured Reserve on Friday.

Bobrovsky has missed the past 16 games with a groin injury.

"[Bobrovsky] is ready to play," Tortorella said. "He wouldn't be back in if he wasn't, but we're still going with [Korpisalo]. I'd still like to get another practice under Bob's belt with the team. He's had just one. If something happens tonight [Bobrovsky] is able to play."

Korpisalo (2-4-1, 3.27, .901) made 41 saves and came within 2:27 of his first NHL shutout on Wednesday in a 3-1 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hannikainen, 22, is excited to be in the Blue Jackets' (16-25-4) lineup with him.

"We've been playing since our junior years together," Hannikainen said. "It's a really big thing. We were talking about that this morning."

Hannikainen is hoping the game against the Avalanche (22-20-3) goes better than his NHL debut did. He had 6:15 of ice time in his first game at the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 28 when he sustained a shoulder injury. He missed 20 games.

"It was one of the toughest spots of my entire career but it's over," he said of the layoff.

Hannikainen, who replaces Rene Bourque on the fourth line, had 11 points (6-5) in 17 games this season for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

"I like his legs. He'll make us faster," Tortorella said. "It bothered me that he was hurt so quickly because I'm really anxious to see him play and give him a full opportunity here with some minutes."

The Avalanche will go with the same lineup that defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Thursday at the Pepsi Center.

That includes 20-year-old defensemen Nikita Zadorov (79 NHL games) and Chris Bigras, who made his NHL debut against the Devils, and rookie backup goaltender Calvin Pickard over Semyon Varlamov.

Pickard made 27 saves against New Jersey for his first NHL shutout.

"He played so well last game he deserves to play again," Colorado coach Patrick Roy said. "It also allows us to rest [Varlamov] and he'll be back in net against Winnipeg [on Monday]."

Bigras and Zadorov were recalled from San Antonio of the AHL on Wednesday.

"We wanted to create a spark and we're hoping these guys could do that and they did," Roy said.

"They had a strong game. They both played really well. The first game for Chris Bigras, I thought he did a good job.

"I'm also very curious how they are going to respond tonight."

Here are the projected lineups:


Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene

Gabriel Landeskog - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Andreas Martinsen - Chris Wagner - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Jack Skille

Francois Beauchemin - Nikita Zadorov

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Zach Redmond - Chris Bigras

Calvin Pickard

Semyon Varlamov

Injured: Reto Berra (ankle), Erik Johnson (lower body), Ben Street (chest), Brad Stuart (back), Jesse Winchester (head)

Scratched: Mikhail Grigorenko, Nate Guenin. Andrew Bodnarchuk


Boone Jenner - Brandon DubinskyCam Atkinson

Scott Hartnell - Alexander WennbergBrandon Saad

Kerby Rychel - William Karlsson - Josh Anderson

Markus Hannikainen - Gregory Campbell - Jared Boll

Ryan Murray - Seth Jones

Jack Johnson - Cody Goloubef

Justin Falk - Dalton Prout

Joonas Korpisalo

Sergei Bobrovsky

Injured: Matt Calvert (knee), David Clarkson (upper body), Curtis McElhinney (ankle), Nick Foligno (upper body), David Savard (upper body)

Scratched: Fedor Tyutin, Rene Bourque

Status report: Bodnarchuk, claimed off waivers from Columbus on Jan. 5, will be a healthy scratch for a second straight game. … Tyutin will sit a second consecutive game. This will be the Blue Jackets' first game since Savard sustained an upper body injury against Toronto. In his place, Prout will play for the first time in five games.

Who's hot: Duchene has five goals and two assists in six games. MacKinnon has two goals and three assists in five games. Landeskog has two goals and three assists in six games. … Jenner had a goal and an assist against Toronto for his fifth multi-point game of season.

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