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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Jets

by Patrick Williams

WINNIPEG -- The Columbus Blue Jackets will turn to goaltender Curtis McElhinney when they visit the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-O, TSN3).

McElhinney will take over the No. 1 goaltending job after Sergei Bobrovsky sustained a groin injury in the Blue Jackets' 3-2 overtime loss against the Los Angeles Kings this past Tuesday. The Blue Jackets placed Bobrovsky on injured reserve Thursday, and he is expected to miss three weeks.

Bobrovsky had started nine consecutive games, and the Blue Jackets have allowed an average of 1.71 goals in the past seven games.

"[Bobrovsky] is a Vezina [Trophy winner in 2012-13]," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "He's our top goalie. Everybody knows that. But this is part of the [NHL], the injuries that you go through in a long [season]."

McElhinney, 32, has not started since Nov. 19. He is 0-4-1 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

Columbus will get right wing David Clarkson back in the lineup after he missed 16 games because of a back injury. Clarkson's return means forward Michael Chaput will be a healthy scratch.

The Blue Jackets, who have lost four of their past five games (1-2-2), surrendered a 2-0 lead against Los Angeles. Tortorella said that he was totally embarrassed by their performance.

"The response is to right it," Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. "We're embarrassed, and we're the ones playing. It's back to the basics. It's getting back to what we do well.

"I think that's the big message. There's no reason for us to have these highs and lows. We've got to find our consistency. That's on the leadership. That's on every guy in that [dressing] room. It will be a good test for us in a really hostile building. [Winnipeg] comes out hard, and I think that's a recipe for us to just play a good, solid road game."

Tortorella is focusing on the play of his skaters rather than the change in the Columbus net.

"There are no adjustments because of [the goaltending change]," Tortorella said. "There certainly have to be adjustments due to our play, especially in our last game. [McElhinney] will go in, and we feel very confident with him."

Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will make his fourth NHL start. He has gone 3-0-0 with a 0.97 GAA and a .965 save percentage.

Jets coach Paul Maurice expects the sort of aggressive approach from Columbus that is typical for a Tortorella-coached team.

"It's just going to be a fight for ice," Maurice said. "There won't be a lot of clean outs. You'll always have someone hunting you or closing on you because of their aggressive nature. It will make it a really physical contest."

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Brandon Saad

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Nick Foligno

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

William Karlsson - Gregory Campbell - David Clarkson

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Ryan Murray - Andrew Bodnarchuk

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Curtis McElhinney

Joonas Korpisalo

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Jared Boll (foot), Rene Bourque (upper body), Cody Goloubef (jaw), Markus Hannikainen (shoulder)

Scratched: Kevin Connauton


Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Blake Wheeler

Mathieu Perreault - Mark Scheifele - Drew Stafford

Chris Thorburn - Alexander Burmistrov - Nikolaj Ehlers

Adam Lowry - Andrew Copp - Anthony Peluso

Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien

Toby Enstrom - Tyler Myers

Mark Stuart - Jacob Trouba

Connor Hellebuyck

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Joel Armia, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma

Injured: Grant Clitsome (back), Ondrej Pavelec (knee)

Status report: Columbus recalled Korpisalo from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League on Wednesday. Maurice did not rule out the possibility that Hellebuyck could start Friday at the end of a back-to-back set when the Jets visit the Chicago Blackhawks. "All things are possible," Maurice said with a smile. "But we've got a young goaltender with a lot of confidence, and we want to make sure that we keep building that confidence."

Who's hot: Foligno and Hartnell each have two goals and two assists in their past two games.

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