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At the Rink: Flyers at Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell still has many friends on the Philadelphia Flyers from his seven seasons there and hosted a few for dinner Thursday.

But the friendships go on hold once the ceremony honoring him for playing in his 1,000th NHL game is completed prior to playing the Flyers in Nationwide Arena on Friday.

"It's pretty special tonight playing against Philly," Hartnell said. "I know so many of the coaches, trainers and management that have been there since I was there eight years ago."

Hartnell figured the milestone would come as a Flyers player but he was traded to Columbus on June 23, 2014, for forward R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

In 517 games with the Flyers, Hartnell had 157 goals and 326 points.

He became the 297th NHL player to reach 1,000 games Monday against the Los Angeles Kings but the Blue Jackets decided to honor him with the customary silver stick and other gifts Friday knowing his former teammates would be in town.

"We're pretty happy about it," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "He did a lot of good things for this organization. He was a great teammate for us. It's good to be part of it."

Hartnell will have his parents in attendance after they and other family members and friends were at the game Monday. He put mom and dad to work Thursday, cooking a meal of steaks and potatoes for some of the Flyers players.

"I don't know if it will be as emotional as the first game that we played against them in Philly [Nov. 22], but we want to get a big win," Hartnell said. "They've been playing hard, winning some games."

Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno on Friday presented the Columbus players hats he ordered for the occasion. They have Hartnell's No. 43 and the date of his 1,000th game.

"We can't get caught up in the ceremony," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "It's great to honor him, but once that ends we've got a job to do."

Flyers coach Craig Berube said his players likewise will be ready when the puck drops.

"They recognize it's a great accomplishment by a former teammate that they all really liked. And they understand the two points are really important for us," he said.

The ceremony will add texture to what should be an intense game between the Metropolitan Division rivals.

Philadelphia is eight points behind the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot into the Stanley Cup Playoffs; Columbus is six points behind the Flyers.

"The emotions are going to come from playing a team we need to get two points from and try to catch in the standings," Foligno said. "We're so excited for [Hartnell], but he's a guy that would say the same thing: we're more worried about the game and getting the win."

The Flyers will be without defenseman Andrew MacDonald because of the death of his grandmother on Friday.

Here are the projected lineups:


Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Ryan White

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier

Nicklas Grossman - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn

Nick Schultz - Carlo Colaiacovo

Ray Emery

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Andrew MacDonald

Suspended: Zac Rinaldo

Injured: Braydon Coburn (lower body), Steve Mason (lower body), Michael Raffl (illness)


Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Scott Hartnell

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Artem Anisimov - Alexander Wennberg - Jack Skille

Corey Tropp - Mark Letestu - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski

Fedor Tyutin - Cody Goloubef

Curtis McElhinney

Anton Forsberg

Scratched: Jordan Leopold

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (ankle), Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Boone Jenner (back), Brian Gibbons (knee), Jeremy Morin (heart), Dalton Prout (upper body)

Status report: Wisniewski, out for the past two games because of injury, returns in place of Leopold. … Luke Schenn will play after being a late scratch because of an upper-body injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.

Who's hot: Hartnell has a goal in three straight games and points in four in row; he has three goals and three assists during that span. "We'll make sure he doesn’t continue the streak," Giroux said with a smile. … The Flyers have a point in seven straight games (5-0-2).

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