Blue Jackets-Blackhawks Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (13-24-7-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (11-25-7-5).
TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will look to achieve a season-high four-game
unbeaten streak when they meet the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
The Blue Jackets got past the St. Louis Blues 3-1 on Wednesday to improve to
2-0-1 during their run, their fourth three-game unbeaten streak of the season.
Playing for Columbus appears to have invigorated Manny Malhotra, as his two
third-period goals sealed the victory
Picked up on waivers from Dallas in November, Malhotra has found a home on
the Blue Jackets' third line. He has scored seven goals for Columbus, one fewer
than his career best, set in 1998 with the New York Rangers.
"Our effort and enthusiasm paid off out there," said Malhotra, a six-year
NHL veteran at 23. "That was one of the big things Turk (interim coach Gerard
Gallant) addressed before the game -- we want to come out with energy and set
the tempo of the game rather than sit back and allow them to get chances."
Owners of the second-worst record in the Western Conference, the Blue
Jackets may be in position to go on a significant run now that all six of their
defenseman are healthy for the first time since Nov. 14. Jaroslav Spacek
returned Wednesday after missing 24 games with a groin injury.
The Blackhawks should be happy to be home following yet another road loss,
4-2 in Minnesota on Wednesday.
Chicago, which last won away from home on Nov. 7, tied a 50-year-old
franchise record by failing to win in its 16th straight road game (0-15-0-1).
The Blackhawks have just 34 points, four more than league-worst Pittsburgh.
"There's no excuse," Chicago coach Brian Sutter said. "Every player in
every situation has to say, 'I have to be a little better."'