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Blackhawks-Blue Jackets Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (23-38-11) at Columbus Blue Jackets (30-40-3).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have already been eliminated from playoff contention, but they haven't been playing like it lately.

The Blue Jackets look to match their longest winning streak of the season when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Columbus beat the St. Louis Blues 4-2 on Friday for its fourth straight victory after a five-game losing streak.

The Blue Jackets, whose winning streak includes wins over playoff-bound Calgary and Detroit, won five straight from Jan. 24-Feb. 2.

"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said goalie Pascal Leclaire, who made 28 saves against St. Louis. "We won a lot of battles in front of the net and on the boards and I think that's why we won."

Rick Nash scored twice and just missed his first career hat-trick when his attempt on an empty net was blocked. Nash, who returned from a knee injury in mid-December, has 26 goals in 45 games, including six goals and three assists in the last six games.

"He had a real tough year at the start with all of the injuries he had," coach Gerard Gallant said. "I think he's rounding into top shape right now. It's nice to see his complete game."

Jaroslav Balastik and Jason Chimera also scored for the Blue Jackets, who are 21-18-3 since Nash's return.

The Blackhawks, who also are out the running for a postseason spot, won their second straight on Friday, a 3-2 overtime victory over the league-leading Detroit Red Wings.

Patrick Sharp scored 1:29 into overtime for Chicago, which also got goals from Mark Cullen and Martin Lapointe. Chicago had lost eight of nine before their modest winning streak.

"This was a big game for us," captain Martin Lapointe said. "We have such a young team. To beat the Red Wings is something we can build on."

Both of the Blackhawks' last two wins have come by one goal after five straight one-goal losses.

STANDINGS: Blackhawks - 57 points, 4th place, 51 PB, Central Division. Blue Jackets - 63 points, 3rd place, 45 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 22 goals; Kyle Calder, 32 assists and 52 points; Matthew Barnaby, 163 PIM. Blue Jackets - Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, 26 goals; David Vyborny, 37 assists and 54 points; Jody Shelley, 145 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blackhawks - Power play: 12.3 percent (45 for 366), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84 percent (415 for 494), 7th. Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.3 percent (58 for 406), 29th. Penalty killing: 81.4 percent (382 for 469), 21st.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin (15-22-5, 3.30 GAA); Craig Anderson (5-11-3, 1 SO, 3.41). Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (18-24-0, 1, 3.26); Leclaire (9-13-3, 3.37).

SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: March 15; Blackhawks, 3-2. At Chicago, Calder scored the game-winner in the third period and Khabibulin made 33 saves. Nash had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 10-20-6 on the road; Blue Jackets - 19-17-0 at home.

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