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Blue Jackets at Penguins preview

Columbus 2-5-0 in past seven games; Pittsburgh center Malkin out with illness

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

BLUE JACKETS (12-14-4) at PENGUINS (17-10-4)



The Game

Evgeni Malkin will not play because of illness when the Pittsburgh Penguins face the Columbus Blue Jackets at PPG Paints Arena on Thursday.

The center is one goal from becoming the eighth active player in the NHL to score 400 goals. Alex Ovechkin (679), Patrick Marleau (557), Sidney Crosby (451), Ilya Kovalchuk (436), Eric Staal (425), Joe Thornton (413) and Steven Stamkos (404) are the current NHL skaters to reach the milestone. Malkin would also become the fourth player to score 400 as a member of the Penguins (Mario Lemieux, 690; Crosby; Jaromir Jagr, 439).

Pittsburgh goes for its fourth victory in five games after a 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday ended a three-game winning streak and a 10-game home point streak (8-0-2).

The Blue Jackets are 2-5-0 in their past seven games after defeating the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Monday. They had been on a four-game losing streak since winning 5-2 against the Penguins at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 29.


Players to watch

Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson scored two goals Monday. He's scored three goals in his past three games.

Penguins center Jared McCann has six points (four goals, two assists) in five games against the Blue Jackets since he was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Feb. 1.


They said it

"You just take it one game at a time and try to find a way." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella 

"We're not telling our players to dump it in all the time. We're telling them to make the right decision. We certainly don't want to take the stick out of our guys' hands." -- Penguins coach Mike Sullivan


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Sonny Milano -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Nick Foligno -- Boone Jenner -- Josh Anderson

Gustav Nyquist -- Alexandre Texier -- Cam Atkinson

Alexander Wennberg -- Riley Nash -- Eric Robinson

Dean Kukan -- Seth Jones

Ryan Murray -- David Savard

Vladislav Gavrikov -- Andrew Peeke

Joonas Korpisalo

Elvis Merzlikins

Scratched: Scott Harrington

Injured: Emil Bemstrom (rib), Brandon Dubinsky (wrist), Markus Nutivaara (upper body), Kole Sherwood (oblique), Zach Werenski (shoulder)


Penguins projected lineup

Jake Guentzel -- Jared McCann -- Bryan Rust

Dominik Kahun -- Teddy Blueger -- Zach Aston-Reese

Alex Galchenyuk -- Sam Lafferty -- Brandon Tanev

Dominik Simon -- Joseph Blandisi -- Stefan Noesen

Kris Letang -- John Marino

Jack Johnson -- Justin Schultz

Marcus Pettersson -- Chad Ruhwedel

Matt Murray

Tristan Jarry

Scratched: Juuso Riikola

Injured: Evgeni Malkin (illness), Sidney Crosby (core muscle surgery), Nick Bjugstad (core muscle surgery), Brian Dumoulin (ankle surgery), Patric Hornqvist (lower body)


Status report

Bemstrom will miss 6-8 weeks with a dislocated rib and broken cartilage. ... Blandisi was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis. No explanation was provided. ... Pittsburgh did not hold a morning skate.


Stat pack

Jones will play his 300th game with the Blue Jackets. He has 182 points (43 goals, 139 assists) for Columbus after having 63 points (15 goals, 48 assists) in 199 games with the Nashville Predators from 2013-16. ... Tortorella needs one win to pass Darryl Sutter (634) for 15th in NHL history. ... Johnson is expected to play his 900th NHL game.

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