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Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview @NHL

Radim Vrbata helped the Chicago Blackhawks end a couple of droughts in their last outing. They have a chance to end two more against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night.

Vrbata scored two power-play goals in the first period and Chicago (5-9-1) stopped an eight-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over St. Louis on Friday.

His first goal snapped the Blackhawks' six-game, 0-for-25 power-play slump.

"It's not like we won the Stanley Cup," Vrbata said. "It's just one game. We got ourselves into a hole and we've got to get out of it. This is just one step."

Injury-decimated Chicago hadn't won since defeating Montreal at home on Oct. 18, going 0-7-1 during the slide. Three of the Blackhawks' top players - forwards Martin Havlat and Michal Handzus, and top goalie Nikolai Khabibulin - are sidelined.

The Blackhawks, who have given up 50 goals in 15 contests, now have a chance to hold their opponent under two goals in consecutive games for the first time in nearly three years. They shut out Detroit on Dec. 28, 2003, and held Pittsburgh to one goal a day later.

Columbus (5-8-1) ranks among the worst scoring teams in the NHL with 33 goals.

Chicago will also be trying to win consecutive games for the first time since Oct. 16-18, when it beat Colorado and Montreal.

On Friday night, the Blackhawks compensated for their injuries by playing tight defense and scoring three or more goals for the first time since Oct. 21, a span of seven games. Vrbata, who had played on a line with Havlat and Handzus earlier this season, hadn't scored in his last six games and had only one goal in his previous nine.

"I'm not playing any different than I was with Havlat and Handzus," Vrbata said. "Sometimes the puck doesn't go in and sometimes it's easy."

Vrbata had an assist against the Blue Jackets on Oct. 7, but Columbus spoiled Chicago's home opener with a 5-4 win.

Rick Nash had two goals and Manny Malhotra had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets in that contest. Nash has 12 goals and nine assists in 18 games against the Blackhawks.

The Blue Jackets had won two of three before a 4-1 loss to Edmonton on Friday night.

Columbus hasn't won back-to-back games since Oct. 7-9, when it beat Phoenix after its victory over Chicago.

"We have to find our way back to .500," Blue Jackets defenseman Rostislav Klesla said. "We have to put wins together now. That's what good teams do. We can't just win one, lose one. We can't get too far behind the pack (in the Western Conference)."

Anson Carter had Columbus' lone goal Friday. It was his second in 14 games and the 1,000th in Blue Jackets history.

Columbus' best line was its fourth, with scrappers Jody Shelley, Alexander Svitov and Steve Goertzen. David Vyborny leads the team with four goals and 10 assists, but has just one assist in his last three games.

"If we're going to win, the top six guys have to be better than that," Blue Jackets coach Gerard Gallant said.

Vyborny has 12 goals and 14 assists in 14 games against Chicago, including two assists in the season's first meeting.

Columbus has won seven of the last 10 meetings in this series after winning just seven times in the first 20 matchups.

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