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Blue Jackets at Rangers preview

Columbus goes for fifth straight victory; rookie Shesterkin starts for New York

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BLUE JACKETS (25-16-8) at RANGERS (23-19-4)

7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, FS-O, NHL.TV


The Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets can match their longest winning streak of the season (five games) when goalie Matiss Kivlenieks makes his NHL debut against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday.

The 23-year-old is 7-7-2 with a 3.04 goals-against average and .896 save percentage in 16 games for Cleveland of the American Hockey League this season. He was recalled Thursday, when goalie Veini Vehvilainen was sent down.

The Blue Jackets won their fourth in a row Saturday by defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-0 at home. They also won five in a row from Dec. 16-23. Columbus is 14-2-4 since Dec. 9.

The Rangers have won their past two games, each against the New York Islanders, and are 4-1-0 in their past five.

Rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin will make his third start since being recalled from Hartford of the AHL on Jan. 6.


Players to watch

Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has five points (three goals, two assists) in two games since returning to the lineup after missing 12 games with an ankle injury.

Rangers forward Artemi Panarin, who played the past two seasons with Columbus, has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) during a five-game point streak.


They said it

"We have not played hard enough the past couple of games. We have not played north well enough the last couple of games. We certainly haven't won enough battles in the last couple of games. And we won two of them. … I think our guys understand, and I feel very confident that we will rectify this." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

"This game is as big as any as game we've played, if not bigger, just because of how deep we are in the season, this team is [eight] points ahead of us, we've got [three] games in a hand and it's a four-point game." -- Rangers coach David Quinn


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Gustav Nyquist -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Emil Bemstrom

Nathan Gerbe -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

Jakob Lilja -- Boone Jenner -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Eric Robinson -- Riley Nash -- Nick Foligno

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Markus Nutivaara

Matiss Kivlenieks

Elvis Merzlikins

Scratched: Sonny Milano, Adam Clendening

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


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Artemi Panarin -- Ryan Strome -- Jesper Fast

Brett Howden -- Filip Chytil -- Kaapo Kakko

Brendan Lemieux -- Greg McKegg -- Brendan Smith

Brady Skjei -- Jacob Trouba

Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

Igor Shesterkin

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Micheal Haley, Alexandar Georgiev, Phil Di Giuseppe

Injured: None


Status report

Bjorkstrand was activated from injured reserve Sunday after missing 13 games with a rib/oblique injury. The forward was tied for the Columbus lead in goals (12) at the time of his injury (Dec. 21). ... The Blue Jackets assigned forward Kevin Stenlund to Cleveland of the AHL. … Lemieux, a forward, practiced Saturday for the first time since fracturing his hand Dec. 27.


Stat pack

Merzlikins is 4-0-0 with three shutouts, a 0.50 goals-against average and a .985 save percentage in his past four starts. … The Blue Jackets are 7-1-3 on the road since Dec. 9. … The Rangers are 10-1-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents since Nov. 7. New York has won five in a row at home, outscoring opponents 27-12.

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