COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards already needed to replace right wing Blake Comeau because of a suspension. But they will also be without their second-leading goal scorer, Artem Anisimov, Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.
The center missed the morning skate to be with his wife, Ksenia Anisimova, for the birth of their first child. The Columbus Dispatch reported the baby was born Thursday and Anisimov will miss the game.
"Arte's got something more important going on right now than playing hockey," Richards said. "We're assuming he's not going to be in the lineup tonight."
Richards had planned to play wing Cam Atkinson for Comeau, who starts a two-game suspension for boarding Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith during a 4-1 win Tuesday. Wing Matt Frattin, who came to Columbus from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for Marian Gaborik on March 5, will play in place of Anisimov.
The Blue Jackets (34-26-5) will be without Anisimov and his 19 goals but will add Atkinson, who has 18 goals despite being benched the past three games (including the postponed game Monday at the Dallas Stars).
"It's tough playing every game and not then knowing why you're not playing when you're healthy," Atkinson said.
He said it was the first time he had been benched in his career. In the nine previous games, he had one goal and two assists.
Richards and Atkinson discussed the move several days ago.
"My conservation with him in Dallas was that he had something to prove, so I'm expecting him to come out and play hard," Richards said. "You'd expect there'd be some reaction being taken out of the lineup."
After sitting out the past few games, Atkinson said he believes he is ready.
"I don't think I have anything to prove," he said. "I'm going to work hard, play my game and try to be the hardest worker out there."
Atkinson skated Thursday morning on a line with center Mark Letestu and RJ Umberger.
The Sharks (42-17-7) will go with backup goalie Alex Stalock to begin a three-game trip. Antti Niemi started the past three games, all wins. Stalock is 10-4-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
Coach Todd McLellan is expected to otherwise keep the same lineup used in a 6-2 win Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Columbus is 13-9-2 at home against San Jose with wins in four of the past five games, including 6-2 and 4-0 victories last season.
"This building hasn't been very friendly to us in the past," San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle said. "We're aware of that. There's no reason for it. No team stays the same. There are different players. It's just one of those things."
Here are the projected lineups for the Sharks and Blue Jackets:
Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Brent Burns
Patrick Marleau - Logan Couture - Matt Nieto
Tommy Wingels - James Sheppard - Martin Havlat
Mike Brown - Adam Burish – Andrew Desjardins
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Jason Demers
Scott Hannan - Justin Braun
Matt Irwin - Dan Boyle
Scratched: Tyler Kennedy, Raffi Torres, Matt Tennyson,
Injured: Brad Stuart (upper body), Tomas Hertl (right knee)
Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Boone Jenner
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Nathan Horton
RJ Umberger - Mark Letestu - Cam Atkinson
Corey Tropp - Derek MacKenzie – Matt Frattin
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Nikita Nikitin - James Wisniewski
Nick Schultz - Dalton Prout
Scratched: Cody Goloubef, Frederic St. Denis, Artem Anisimov
Suspended: Blake Comeau
Injured: Jared Boll (ankle), Ryan Murray (knee), Fedor Tyutin (ankle)