Avalanche-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Colorado Avalanche (11-8-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (5-17-0).
TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.
The league-worst Columbus Blue Jackets will try to end a season-high six-game losing streak against a team they haven't had much success against as they host the Colorado Avalanche.
The Blue Jackets, who have a league-low 10 points, have just one win over the Avalanche in 16 all-time meetings (1-14-1) since Columbus joined the NHL four years ago.
Jaroslav Spacek, now with the Chicago Blackhawks, netted the game-winner in overtime to lift Columbus to a 5-4 victory over Colorado on Feb. 28, 2004. David Vyborny had a goal and four assists for the Blue Jackets, who have been outscored 69-23 in the series.
The Avalanche took the last meeting 4-2 on April 2, 2004 to win the season series 3-0-0-1 in 2003-04.
Columbus is coming off yet another discouraging defeat, 4-2 to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday. Nikolai Zherdev and Manny Malhotra scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost 10 of 11.
"We didn't show up to play for a period and a half and it cost us the hockey game," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said. "We played a great third period, but it's just one period - we can't do it for 60 minutes. That's been our problem all season long."
The Blue Jackets, who have the fewest goals in the league (40), have scored just nine during their six-game skid - their longest since losing a franchise high-tying eight in a row from March 3-18, 2004.
Columbus has lost four in a row at home, and fans at Nationwide Arena are becoming increasingly disenchanted with team president and general manager Doug MacLean.
Midway through the third period, a fan sitting along the glass held up a sign that read: "Trade MacLean."
Pascal Leclaire had a career-high 37 saves Wednesday. Leclaire started in place of struggling goalie Marc Denis, who has been nursing a strained groin since Sunday's 5-1 loss to Phoenix. Columbus placed Denis on injured reserve Thursday along with left wing Alexandre Picard (concussion).
Defenseman Adam Foote strained his groin Wednesday in the first period and did not return.
Colorado is coming off its third straight loss, 7-3 to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday.
Andrew Brunette, Ian Laperriere and John-Michael Liles all scored for the Avalanche, who play three of their next four games on the road.
STANDINGS (through Nov. 24): Avalanche - 25 points, 4th place, 7 PB, Northwest Division. Blue Jackets - 10 points, 5th place, 24 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Avalanche - Marek Svatos, 10 goals; Alex Tanguay, 16 assists and 24 points; Ian Laperriere, 45 PIM. Blue Jackets - Vyborny, 6 goals; Malhotra, 11 assists; Bryan Berard, 15 points; Jody Shelley, 46 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 24): Avalanche - Power play: 19.3 percent (29 for 150), 11th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (111 for 131), 6th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 9.8 percent (13 for 132), 30th. Penalty killing: 82.9 percent (131 for 158), 13th (tied).
GOALTENDERS: Avalanche - David Aebischer (8-5-0, 0 SO, 3.48 GAA); Peter Budaj (3-3-3, 0, 2.69). Blue Jackets - Martin Prusek (2-3-0, 3.39); Leclaire (0-3-0, 3.71).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Avalanche, 3-0-0-1.
LAST MEETING: April 2, 2004; Avalanche, 4-2. At Columbus, Svatos scored his first two NHL goals to lead Colorado.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Avalanche - 5-5-0 on the road; Blue Jackets - 4-7-0 at home.