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Blue Jackets try to derail Blackhawks

by John Kreiser

BLUE JACKETS (5-11-2) at BLACKHAWKS (14-0-3)

TV: FS-Ohio; CSN-Chicago

Last 10: Columbus 3-6-1; Chicago 8-0-2

Season series: The Blackhawks won the first of this season's four meetings, beating the Blue Jackets 3-2 in Columbus on Jan. 26. They've won the last eight games since a 4-3 home loss on Feb. 18, 2011.

Big story: Columbus, a 2-1 loser at St. Louis on Saturday, gets the next chance to derail the Blackhawks' express. Chicago set an NHL mark on Friday by beating San Jose 2-1, giving the Blackhawks at least one point in their first 17 games -- one more than the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks, who started 12-0-4.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Columbus finishes a six-game trip that has seen the Blue Jackets win just once in the first five games, with most of the problems due to a lack of scoring. The Jackets went toe-to-toe with the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday night but managed only a shorthanded goal by Matt Calvert in their 2-1 loss.

Coach Todd Richards again was happy with his team's effort -- but the results still aren't there.

"I think you look at the game and we sound like a broken record, but we did a lot of good things," Richards said, "and maybe it's a little harder to compete in certain areas where we can finish but a lot of things we just didn't get rewarded for tonight.

Blackhawks: Chicago now owns the best start in NHL history. But that's not enough for coach Joel Quenneville, who doesn't want his players to be satisfied with what they've accomplished.

"The guys should be proud of the achievement, the accomplishment," he said after Friday's win." I just think we shouldn't be happy with where we're at. We just want to keep trying to get better."

Perhaps the biggest area of improvement has been the penalty-kill, which was among the NHL's worst last season but has turned into a strength by killing off 88.7 percent of opposition power plays.

"Special teams on a lot of nights can be the difference," Quenneville said. "[Friday], definitely, you can say the key factor was our PK. Everybody takes a part of that, goaltending as well. But it was certainly an area we wanted to make sure we improved upon this year, and the guys have been very diligent in doing the right thing."

Who's hot: Vinny Prospal has goals in two of the Blue Jackets' past three games. … Goaltender Ray Emery is 7-0-0 during Chicago's streak and has won four consecutive starts.

Injury report: Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson left Saturday's game with an upper-body injury and is questionable. Center Artem Anisimov missed Saturday's game and is day-to-day with a head injury sustained in a collision on Thursday. Forward Brandon Dubinsky (knee) is on IR. … Chicago center Dave Bolland left Friday's game with a lower-body injury. He's day-to-day.

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