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Blue Jackets aim to bounce back against Devils

by Brian Hunter

DEVILS (12-13-6) at BLUE JACKETS (12-15-3)


Last 10: New Jersey 4-5-1; Columbus 5-5-0

Season series: This is the second game this season between the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. James Wisniewski had a goal and two assists to lead the Blue Jackets to a 4-1 win against the Devils on Oct. 22 at Nationwide Arena.

Big story: The early returns on goalie Curtis McElhinney, tasked with keeping Columbus in the race for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth while starter Sergei Bobrovsky is sidelined, have been very positive. McElhinney shut out the Minnesota Wild in his first start after Bobrovsky went down with a groin injury and he was solid in defeat Monday, making 28 saves in a 2-1 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Team Scope:

Devils: A come-from-behind 4-3 road win against the archrival New York Rangers on Saturday was nice. So were the two days off that followed for New Jersey. It was the first time since Nov. 17-19 the Devils had consecutive days without a game.

Even after giving the players a full day off Sunday, coach Peter DeBoer made practice Monday optional. Having just completed a stretch of 11 games in 18 days, he decided the benefits of giving players that needed it a little extra rest trumped those of holding a full team practice.

"Obviously, you're always weighing those things," DeBoer told The (Bergen) Record. "We've done a lot of our teaching in video (meeting). I'd love to have some practice time. Every coach would, but not at the expense of energy and our energy has been very good considering the schedule."

Blue Jackets: McElhinney also helped finish off a shutout effort Bobrovsky had started before getting hurt against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 3, so Columbus had a streak of 162 minutes going without allowing a goal before Evgeni Malkin scored the opening goal of the game Monday.

Offense was tough to come by in general, and though Matt Calvert kept the Blue Jackets from being blanked by scoring with 56.5 seconds left in regulation, they were unable to come out with any points against the Penguins, creating a situation where they hope they can bounce back Tuesday.

"We had offensive zone time but we've got to get something done -- winning the one-on-one battle, getting the puck to the net and going to the net with a little more determination," coach Todd Richards said. "We're going to have to play a good, hard patient game. It might come down to one of those 1-0 games and who makes the first mistake."

Who's hot: Michael Ryder has three goals and one assist in the past four games for the Devils. Tim Sestito had two assists Saturday, his first career multi-point game. He had three career assists in his first 73 NHL games. … Ryan Johansen has two goals and five assists during a five-game point streak for the Blue Jackets.

Injury report: New Jersey defenseman Marek Zidlicky (upper body) was out of the lineup Saturday, but took part in an optional practice Monday and is expected to play. Defensemen Bryce Salvador (foot) and Adam Larsson (lower body) and forwards Ryane Clowe (concussion), Ryan Carter (lower body) and Stephen Gionta (ankle) are on injured reserve. … Wisniewski (upper body) was out of the lineup Monday for Columbus, which has Bobrovsky (groin) and forwards Nathan Horton (shoulder), Cody Bass (thumb), Marian Gaborik (knee) and Jared Boll (foot) on injured reserve.

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