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Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (11-25-1) at Chicago Blackhawks (13-19-4).

TIME: Friday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Columbus Blue Jackets might have one of the worst records in the NHL, but they've played well against the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

Columbus looks for its third straight win over struggling Chicago when the teams meet at the United Center.

The Blue Jackets have won the first two meetings this season with the Blackhawks, including a 4-3 victory in overtime on Monday.

Nikolai Zherdev tied the game with an acrobatic goal in the final seconds of regulation and Jaroslav Balastik scored in overtime for Columbus, which has won a season-best two straight for the third time this season.

Monday's victory was the Blue Jackets' sixth in their last eight meetings with the Blackhawks.

Columbus' Marc Denis looks to build on his best performance of the season. He made 40 saves in a 1-0 victory over Anaheim on Wednesday, his first shutout since March 24, 2004.

It was the Blue Jackets' first 1-0 win since March 12, 2003, when Denis made 38 saves against the San Jose Sharks.

"(Denis) won us the hockey game," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said.

The Blackhawks are coming off a 2-1 loss at St. Louis on Wednesday, their fifth straight defeat and seventh in the last eight contests.

Nikolai Khabibulin started in goal for the Blackhawks, but left after two periods with a pulled groin. Chicago coach Trent Yawney said he didn't know how long Khabibulin will be out.

Khabibulin allowed two goals on 22 shots before leaving and Craig Anderson stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period.

Each of the Blackhawks' last three losses have been by one goal, two of them coming after regulation.

"There are a few aspects of the game where we've really got to grow up and it showed tonight, like the sticking penalties," Blackhawks captain Adrian Aucoin said. "We have to understand we're not going to win unless we all play together, unless we all take shorter shifts, unless we put the puck on the net and unless we play as a five-man unit."

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 23 points, 4th place, 30 PB, Central Division. Blackhawks - 30 points, 3rd place, 23 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Zherdev, 10 goals; David Vyborny, 15 assists and 22 points; Jody Shelley, 78 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 14 goals; Tyler Arnason, 19 assists and 29 points; Todd Simpson, 97 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 11.7 percent (26 for 222), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83 percent (215 for 259), 11th. Blackhawks - Power play: 13.7 percent (29 for 211), 28th. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (239 for 284), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (6-14-0, 1 SO, 3.17 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (2-8-1, 3.97). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (11-17-3, 3.34); Anderson (2-2-1, 3.92).

SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 26; Blue Jackets, 4-3, OT. At Columbus, Ohio, the Blue Jackets improved to 6-1 in overtime games and shootouts this season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-14-1 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-7-1 at home.

Associated Press
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