Blue Jackets-Canucks Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (22-30-2) at Vancouver Canucks (31-19-5).
TIME: Monday, 10 p.m. EST.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are winning with strong fundamental play - and making their victories exciting in the process.
Columbus puts its franchise-record five-game winning streak on the line when it wraps up a three-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks.
The Blue Jackets have been playing some of the most competitive hockey of their five-year existence, with all five wins coming by one goal, the last two in shootouts.
Former Oiler Jason Chimera scored in the eighth round to give Columbus a 2-1 win over Edmonton on Friday night. Columbus' Marc Denis allowed a goal to Edmonton's Steve Staios with 5:08 to play, but the Blue Jackets' Nikolai Zherdev tied it just over two minutes later.
"We're playing simple hockey, we're playing basic hockey," Columbus defenseman Adam Foote said. "Early in the year we would press."
General manager Doug MacLean thinks his team has made significant progress this season.
"I think we are as good as most teams in the West," MacLean said. "When we are healthy we will challenge most teams."
The key to Columbus' improvement has been Denis, who has won his last six starts. Over the last two games he has stopped 63 of 65 shots for a 0.93 goals-against average.
Denis, though, is 2-4-0 with a 4.14 GAA and an .856 save percentage against the Canucks in Vancouver.
The Canucks return home after a disappointing 3-4-0 road trip that included a 6-5 loss to the Blue Jackets on Jan. 24.
Daniel Sedin scored the lone Canucks goal off an assist from twin brother and linemate Henrik on Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the Oilers.
"We didn't initiate anything," forward Markus Naslund said. "There was no doubt they were outworking us."
The Canucks, though, will be looking to extend their winning streak at GM Place to six games. Vancouver has had winning streaks of seven and six games, as well as a losing streak of five games, in front of the home fans this season.
The Sedins also will try to extend their home point streaks to five games. Henrik Sedin has a goal and five assists, while Daniel Sedin has four assists in the last four home games.
The Canucks are 12-1-2 at home when scoring more than three goals.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 46 points, 3rd place, 31 PB, Central Division. Canucks - 67 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Zherdev, 17 goals; David Vyborny, 23 assists and 38 points; Jody Shelley, 107 PIM. Canucks - Naslund, 24 goals and 55 points; Henrik Sedin, 40 assists; Todd Bertuzzi, 94 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.8 percent (45 for 305), 27th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (298 for 363), 17th. Canucks - Power play: 18.8 percent (67 for 357), 8th. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (280 for 346), 20th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (14-17-0, 1 SO, 3.19 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (5-10-2, 3.69). Canucks - Alex Auld (23-14-3, 2.78); Maxime Ouellet (0-2-1, 4.00).
SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 24; Blue Jackets, 6-5. At Columbus, Ohio, Trevor Letowski scored with 4:37 to play in the Blue Jackets' highest-scoring home game in franchise history. Nolan Baumgartner and Bertuzzi each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 8-18-2 on the road; Canucks - 18-3-3 at home.