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Preview: Flames at Blue Jackets

Kris Versteeg returns from groin injury for Calgary; Columbus seeks to continue success

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

FLAMES (8-12-1) at BLUE JACKETS (10-4-3)

7 p.m. ET; SNW, FS-O, NHL.TV

 

Flames team scope

Forward Kris Versteeg will return for the Calgary Flames after missing nine games with a groin injury and will like to provide offense. The Flames are without their second-leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau (five goals, six assists 11 points) who broke his finger on Nov. 15. Michael Frolik leads the Flames with 14 points (six goals, eight assists). "[Versteeg] has some skill and we can get him back in there on the power play and get him rolling," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We'll watch his minutes and see how he is." Versteeg hasn't played since Nov. 3. "I've had issues before so when it happened it's always scary," said Versteeg, who has two goals and two assists in 12 games. "It ended up being OK. I had to take some time to get back. I feel great." Goaltender Chad Johnson will start after Brian Elliott played Monday against the Buffalo Sabres. Gulutzan expects a tough test against the Columbus Blue Jackets. "This isn't the Columbus of old," he said. "They've got some really good young players and they've matured. They look like a very confident group and they've got some swag."

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Blue Jackets are 4-0-1 in the past five games and 8-1-2 in 12 in part because they've found ways to get points, especially late in games. Although a seven-game home winning streak ended on Monday in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche, forward Cam Atkinson scored with seven seconds left in regulation to tie the game. "It's a mindset going into every game expecting to win," Atkinson said. "We you have that philosophy, obviously you're going to have some bad periods, but the third period the whole season has been great for us." Atkinson scored 37 seconds into overtime against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 15 after Zach Werenski tied the game at 13:02 of the third. Four days later at Washington, Alexander Wennberg scored the winner with 54 seconds remaining in the third. Sam Gagner tied the game against the Dallas Stars at 2-2 with 16 seconds left in regulation and Seth Jones scored the winner 46 seconds into overtime on Nov. 1. "We don't dip," Columbus coach John Tortorella said. "We just keep on trying to play this first quarter of the year. We found some success and had some pretty good third periods along the way."

 

Flames projected lineup

Kris Versteeg -- Sean Monahan -- Troy Brouwer

Matthew Tkachuk -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Sam Bennett -- Matt Stajan -- Alex Chiasson

Micheal Ferland -- Freddie Hamilton -- Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano -- Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie -- Dennis Wideman

Brett Kulak -- Deryk Engelland

Chad Johnson

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Hunter Shinkaruk

Injured: Ladislav Smid (neck), Lance Bouma (upper body), Johnny Gaudreau (broken finger)

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Scott Hartnell -- Lukas Sedlak -- Sam Gagner

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Ryan Murray -- David Savard

Jack Johnson -- Markus Nutivaara

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Markus Hannikainen

Injured: David Clarkson (back), Dalton Prout (back)

 

Status report

The Flames assigned forward Linden Vey to Stockton of the American Hockey League on Tuesday. He played four games for Calgary this season. … Bobrovsky will start after McElhinney played Monday. …  The Blue Jackets recalled Hannikainen from the Cleveland of the AHL on Wednesday. He was sent down Monday.

 

Who's hot

Atkinson has three goals and six assists during a five-game point streak. He had two goals on Monday. …Werenski has 12 points, five of them goals, in 10 home games. … Backlund has a goal in each of his past two games.

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