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Preview: Blue Jackets at Penguins

Columbus can take second place in Metropolitan Division with win in Pittsburgh

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (49-21-8) at PENGUINS (48-19-11)

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

 

Blue Jackets team scope

The Columbus Blue Jackets can move past the Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division with a victory. The Blue Jackets (106 points) are one point behind the Penguins and six behind the first-place Washington Capitals. Columbus and Pittsburgh each have played 78 games; the Blue Jackets have more three regulation/overtime wins (47-44). However, Columbus is 0-2-1 in its past three games and 2-3-2 in its past seven. Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand is expected to return after missing six games with an upper-body injury. He has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 22 games. "It's nice to be back," Bjorkstrand told to the Blue Jackets website Monday. "It's nice getting ready right before playoffs start too. It's never fun to be out and hurt and not play." Defenseman Zach Werenski is not expected to play after sustaining an upper-body injury in the third period against Washington on Sunday. He did not practice Monday. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who leads the NHL with a 1.99 goals-against average and .934 save percentage and is tied for first with 41 wins, is expected to start. Bobrovsky has lost his past two games after going 9-0-1 in his previous 10 decisions. The Blue Jackets did not hold a morning skate.

 

Penguins team scope

Pittsburgh will try to remain in second place in the division and pull within three points of first-place Washington, which plays at the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Obviously, there's a lot up for grabs," forward Nick Bonino said. "The division is still up for grabs. It's tough to catch Washington, but if we win every game we have a shot. If that can't happen, we'd obviously love home ice in the first round. It's a team we might that we might end up playing in the first round and we'd love to beat them tonight." Columbus is 2-0-1 against the Penguins this season; Pittsburgh is 1-1-1. Two of the three games have been decided in overtime. Forward Evgeni Malkin, who took the ice before the morning skate, will miss his 10th consecutive game with an upper-body injury. Despite missing 16 games, Malkin is second on the Penguins with 33 goals and 72 points. Coach Mike Sullivan said Malkin's status has not changed. Goalie Matt Murray is expected to start for the third straight game after making 33 saves in a 3-2 home win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday. This is the Penguins' regular-season home finale. They are 30-6-4 at PPG Paints Arena.

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Alexander Wennberg -- Cam Atkinson

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Josh Anderson

Scott Hartnell -- Sam Gagner -- Brandon Saad

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Markus Nutivaara -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Kyle Quincey -- Scott Harrington

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Sonny Milano, Lauri Korpikoski

Injured: David Clarkson (back), Ryan Murray (hand), Lukas Sedlak (upper body), Zach Werenski (upper body)

 

Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Sidney Crosby -- Conor Sheary

Bryan Rust -- Nick Bonino -- Phil Kessel

Tom Kuhnhackl -- Matt Cullen -- Patric Hornqvist

Scott Wilson -- Carter Rowney -- Josh Archibald

Brian Dumoulin -- Ron Hainsey

Ian Cole -- Justin Schultz

Mark Streit -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Cameron Gaunce

Injured : Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Trevor Daley (knee), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (lower body), Tom Sestito (upper body), Chris Kunitz (lower body)

 

Status report

Columbus recalled Milano from Cleveland of the American Hockey League on Monday. … Daley and Sestito wore yellow non-contact jerseys during the morning skate and are not expected to play.

 

Who's hot

Bobrovsky is 10-2-2 with 18 goals allowed and four shutouts in his past 14 starts. … Crosby has 14 points (nine goals, five assists) in his past 12 games. He leads the NHL with 43 goals, four more than Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews.

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