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Preview: Oilers at Blue Jackets

Columbus goes for 16th straight win; Edmonton looks to extend point streak to seven games

by Craig Merz / Correspondent

OILERS (19-12-7) at BLUE JACKETS (26-5-4)

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


Oilers team scope

The Edmonton Oilers feel they are in a good position to end the Columbus Blue Jackets' 15-game winning streak. They are 4-0-2 in their past six games and have allowed two regulation goals or fewer in eight of the past nine. "We're happy with how we've been playing," forward Connor McDavid said. "We've been winning. And if we haven't, we've been in every game and still finding ways to get points. That's a good sign." There is incentive for the Oilers, who were the seventh win in the Blue Jackets' streak, a 3-1 home loss Dec. 13. "Motivation is trying to blow up the streak of, I guess arguably, but it's not much of an argument, the best team in the NHL right now," said Mark Letestu, a former Blue Jackets forward. "To beat them at the top of their game is something that motivates us. For me, there's two games I want them to lose every year: The ones they play us." Coach Todd McLellan said he's also looking forward to the challenge. "For us, this is a number of opportunities," he said. "One, an opportunity to put an end to a very impressive streak, and it is. But also for us it's to play in a [Stanley Cup] Playoff environment. I'm sure it will feel like that tonight in this building, all the intensity the opposition will bring. We have a number of players who haven't experienced that in their career, never mind lately."


Blue Jackets team scope

A Columbus Blue Jackets win would give them 16 straight victories, the second-longest single-season win streak in NHL history behind the 17-game streak of the Pittsburgh Penguins from March 9-April 10, 1993. They could tie that record at the Washington Capitals on Thursday. The Blue Jackets also have points in 17 straight (16-0-1) and have gone from hunters to being hunted. "We're coming into these games and it's no surprise," forward Cam Atkinson said. "Teams aren't going to be taking us lightly. That's great. That's why you play the game. And we've been up to the challenge every single night. It's what every organization wants. It's one thing to be the underdog. I still feel like we're moving up and getting better every day and still earning respect, but it's definitely what we want." The players have said they don't see the streak as pressure. "We're having fun with it," defenseman Seth Jones said. "Everyone in here loves competition. We're not flying under the radar anymore."


Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Leon Draisaitl

Matt Hendricks -- Mark Letestu -- Zack Kassian

Benoit Pouliot -- Drake Caggiula -- Jesse Puljujarvi

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Brandon Davidson -- Matthew Benning

Cam Talbot

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Anton Lander, Eric Gryba, Jordan Oesterle

Injured: Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Andrew Ference (hip), Darnell Nurse (foot), Mark Fayne (lower body), Tyler Pitlick (knee)


Blue Jackets projected lineup

Brandon Saad -- Alexander Wennberg -- Nick Foligno

Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky -- Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert -- William Karlsson -- Josh Anderson

Scott Hartnell -- Lukas Sedlak -- Sam Gagner

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Jack Johnson -- David Savard

Markus Nutivaara -- Ryan Murray

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Scott Harrington, Dalton Prout, Markus Hannikainen

Injured: David Clarkson (lower body)


Status report

Sekera returns after missing two games because of an illness. "If he is feeling like we think he is, which is back to normal, and he's sharp, he'll play a lot of minutes," McLellan said. "If not we'll cut him back. I believe he has been our top defenseman for most of the season." Lander, a center, was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Monday and forward Taylor Beck was assigned to the AHL there. Lander has one goal and two assists in 16 games with the Oilers this season.


Who's hot

Draisaitl has one goal and six assists in his past six games. … Atkinson has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in his past 12 games. Saad 10 goals and 20 points in his past 20 games.

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