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Hurricanes at Blue Jackets preview

Carolina seeks fourth win in five games; Columbus goalie Merzlikins eyes third straight shutout

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

HURRICANES (27-17-2) at BLUE JACKETS (23-16-8)

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

 

The Game

Elvis Merzlikins can tie a Columbus Blue Jackets record with his third straight shutout when he starts against the Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Merzlikins hasn't allowed a goal in 137:51. He made 27 saves in a 3-0 win against the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 11, and 34 saves in 3-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Merzlikins is 6-2-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average and .950 save percentage since Dec. 31.

Steve Mason (Dec. 27-31, 2008) and Sergei Bobrovsky (March 2-7, 2017) each had three consecutive shutouts. Mason holds the Blue Jackets record of 199:28 without allowing a goal from Dec. 23, 2008-Jan. 2, 2009.

Columbus is 4-0-1 in its past five games and 12-2-4 in its past 18.

Petr Mrazek is expected to start for Carolina, which seeks its fourth win in five games (3-1-0).

 

Players to watch

Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin is expected to play his 350th consecutive game and pass Eric Staal for the second-longest streak in Carolina/Hartford Whalers history behind Dave Tippett (419 from March 3, 1984-Oct. 7, 1989). Slavin last missed a game Dec. 3, 2015.

Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson returns after missing 12 games with an ankle sprain.

 

They said it

"When we play good defending, we create a lot more chances. We're not quite there like we were last year." -- Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour

"I'm excited to get back in. I don't think it's any pressure, just go out work hard and do what I do best." -- Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson

 

Hurricanes projected lineup

Andrei Svechnikov -- Jordan Staal -- Warren Foegele

Nino Niederreiter -- Sebastian Aho -- Teuvo Teravainen

Ryan Dzingel -- Erik Haula -- Martin Necas

Brock McGinn -- Lucas Wallmark -- Jordan Martinook

Jaccob Slavin -- Dougie Hamilton

Jake Gardiner -- Brett Pesce

Trevor van Riemsdyk -- Joel Edmundson

Petr Mrazek

James Reimer

Scratched: Justin Williams, Haydn Fleury

Injured: None

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Emil Bemstrom -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Cam Atkinson

Gustav Nyquist -- Boone Jenner -- Nick Foligno

Nathan Gerbe -- Alexander Wennberg -- Kevin Stenlund

Jakob Lilja -- Riley Nash -- Eric Robinson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Markus Nutivaara

Elvis Merzlikins

Matiss Kivlenieks

Scratched: Sonny Milano, Adam Clendening

Injured: Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Josh Anderson (shoulder), Oliver Bjorkstrand (rib, oblique), Ryan Murray (lower body), Joonas Korpisalo (knee), Alexandre Texier (back), Dean Kukan (knee)

 

Status report

Carolina did not hold a morning skate. … Milano, a forward, sits with Atkinson's return.

 

Stat pack

Hamilton is one point from 300 in the NHL. He's scored two goals in two games against the Blue Jackets this season … Pesce needs one point for 100 in his NHL career. … Werenski has eight points (seven goals, one assist) in his past eight games and leads NHL defensemen with 15 goals, one ahead of Hamilton and Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators.

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