BRUINS (18-14-3) at BLUE JACKETS (14-16-3)
TV: NESN, FS-O
COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will not play Saturday against the Boston Bruins at Nationwide Arena because of a stomach illness, coach Todd Richards said.
Curtis McElhinney, whose last start was Nov. 29 at the Nashville Predators, will start and Anton Forsberg was called up from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. Bobrovsky did not attend the morning skate.
"We've got to do a good job in front of (McElhinney) as a group of five," Richards said. "He's going to have to make saves when we need him to make saves, but the five guys in front have to help him out. It means we have to be disciplined, not take penalties."
McElhinney (1-6-1, 3.49 goals against average, .895 save percentage) played the final 12:47 Monday in a 5-1 loss to Nashville, allowing one goal on five shots, after Bobrovsky had given up four goals.
The defeat ended a nine-game point streak for the Blue Jackets (14-16-3).
Bobrovsky, despite the rough game against the Predators, has been one of the best goalies in the NHL this month. He is 8-1-1 with 2.25 GAA and a .934 save percentage in December.
McElhinney will not be the lone change from the game Monday because left wing Scott Hartnell (broken finger) returns after missing five games since Dec. 12. Hartnell has six goals and 17 points in 28 games.
He is expected to be on a line with center Ryan Johansen and Jeremy Morin.
"I want to be helpful and do what I do best, and that's go to the net," Hartnell said. "I'm not going to go out and work the half wall on the power play. I'm going to be in front of the net. Keep it simple, shooting pucks and crashing the net."
The Bruins (18-14-3) are expected to start backup goaltender Niklas Svedberg, who made 25 saves in a 4-3 shootout win vs. the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Nov. 11.
Boston coach Claude Julien said the Bruins and Blue Jackets are alike in some ways.
"We've been through a lot of the same things with injuries, yet both teams are good teams," he said.
The Bruins have won consecutive games for the first time in over a month and left wing Milan Lucic said that is what's important, not a potential tiff with Dalton Prout after the Columbus defenseman leveled him with a punch at the end of the game last month.
"If there's a score to settle, that's something that needs to be done when the time is right," Lucic said. "We've won our last two games. The main focus is to get on a streak here and start off after this Christmas break the way we finished."
Here are the probable lineups:
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith
Milan Lucic– David Krejci – Craig Cunningham
Chris Kelly – Carl Soderberg- Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille – Gregory Campbell – Matt Fraser
Zdeno Chara – Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski – Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Scratched: Seth Griffith, Zach Trotman
Injured: Adam McQuaid (thumb)
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell - Ryan Johansen - Jeremy Morin
Jack Skille - Alexander Wennberg – Nick Foligno
Corey Tropp - Michael Chaput - Jared Boll
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Kevin Connauton - James Wisniewski
Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout
Scratched: Jordan Leopold, Cody Goloubef, Adam Cracknell
Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Mark Letestu (groin), Artem Anisimov (torn triceps), Brian Gibbons (knee), Boone Jenner (back), Sergei Bobrovsky (illness)
Status report: Hartnell's return puts Cracknell out of the lineup and moves Foligno, the Blue Jackets' goal leader with 16, down to the third line with Wennberg and Skille.
Who's hot: The Bruins have won seven straight games vs. Columbus, four of them in overtime or shootout, since a 3-2 loss in Boston on Jan. 21, 2010. They have won the past four games in Columbus after a 2-0 defeat on March 10, 2009. … The Blue Jackets have killed 20 straight shorthanded situations. … Kelly has a goal and five assists during a five-game point streak.