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Panthers at Blue Jackets preview

Barkov could be out again for Florida; Columbus can extend point streak to nine

by Craig Merz / Independent Correspondent

PANTHERS (29-17-5) at BLUE JACKETS (28-16-9)

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


The Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets will seek to extend their point streak to nine games when they host the Florida Panthers at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday.

Columbus, third in the Metropolitan Division, is 7-0-1 in its past eight games and has 39 points since Dec. 9 (17-2-5), the most in the NHL in that span.

The Blue Jackets, who start a four-game homestand, are 8-1-1 in the past 10 home games, outscoring opponents 34-13.

Aleksander Barkov could miss his second straight game for the Panthers because of a lower-body injury the forward sustained in a 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

Florida is 7-1-0 in the past eight games after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Monday.


Players to watch

Florida Panthers defenseman Mark Pysyk, who played forward against the Maple Leafs with Aleksander Barkov injured, had his first NHL hat trick on Monday. 

Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins is 6-0-0 in his past six games with a 1.34 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and three shutouts. 


They said it

"I still think there's room for us to be better, but certainly being down the way we were it's a surprising comeback." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville on Florida winning after trailing Toronto 3-1 in the third period on Monday.

"We're in the back half of the season so you start getting excited about the playoff races, but you have to stay in the moment. There's two points on the line tonight and that's got to be the focus." -- Blue Jackets forward Eric Robinson


Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Vincent Trocheck -- Evgenii Dadonov

Brett Connolly -- Noel Acciari -- Jayce Hawryluk

Frank Vatrano -- Dominic Toninato -- Mike Hoffman

Colton Sceviour -- Denis Malgin -- Mark Pysyk 

Mike Matheson -- Aaron Ekblad

Riley Stillman -- Anton Stralman

Keith Yandle -- Josh Brown

Sergei Bobrovsky

Sam Montembeault

Scratched: Brian Boyle

Injured: MacKenzie Weegar (upper body), Chris Driedger (lower body), Aleksander Barkov (lower body)

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Nick Foligno -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Gustav Nyquist -- Boone Jenner -- Cam Atkinson

Sonny Milano -- Riley Nash -- Emil Bemstrom

Nathan Gerbe -- Ryan MacInnis -- Eric Robinson

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Markus Nutivaara

Elvis Merzlikins

Matiss Kivlenieks

Scratched: Andrew Peeke, Jakob Lilja 

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


Status report

The Panthers did not hold a morning skate but Bobrovsky is expected to start his second straight game. … MacInnis replaces Wennberg, the center who was injured Sunday against the Canadiens and is expected to miss three to four weeks.


Stat pack

Hoffman has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his past 12 games. … Yandle needs one goal for 100 in the NHL. … Huberdeau has 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in his past 19 games. … Bjorkstrand had 13 points (10 goals, three assists) in an eight-game point streak. … Dubois has eight points (two goals, six assists) in a four-game point streak. … Nyquist has two goals and an assist in a three-game point streak. … Pysyk is expected to play his 400th NHL game.

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