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Gaborik, Wisniewski returning for Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- The return from injuries Saturday of forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski not only will solidify the Columbus Blue Jackets' lineup but could provide a needed psychological boost two days after blowing a big third-period lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I hope that's the case," Wisniewski said.

The last of Wisniewski's six games missed (upper body) was Thursday when the Blue Jackets (14-17-4) allowed five goals in the third and lost 5-4 at Philadelphia. The rematch is Saturday in Nationwide Arena.

"As soon as that buzzer went, everyone was looking forward to the next game and getting back after it," Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray said.

Coach Todd Richards said the rookie Murray will pair again with the veteran Wisniewski as he did prior to Wisniewski's injury.

"The biggest thing you want to do is get the game speed back," Wisniewski said.

He noticed a trend watching the team during his recovery.

"We have to follow our structure a little bit more and we all know that," Wisniewski said. "Sometimes we have a tendency when we don't play well it's because we're all doing our own thing."

He still leads Columbus defensemen with 18 points (2-16) and his eight power play assists are the most on the team.

"He's a veteran guy on the back end that has some moxie when he gets the puck on his stick," Richards said.

Big things are expected of Gaborik, too, although he's had a disappointing season with five goals and six assists in 17 games before sustaining a left knee injury. He is on an eight-game goalless streak but Richards still considers him the Blue Jackets' best offensive threat.

"It's been the situation before. I like pressure on me," Gaborik said.

He will be on a new line with Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno.

"Lines don't matter. They're always changing," Gaborik said. "I've played with Artie, and Nick has been playing very well. Hopefully we can click right away and get on the board early."

The Flyers (16-15-4) will make a change in goal from Thursday with Ray Emery getting the start in goal over Steve Mason, who will not get an opportunity to face his former team in Columbus for the first time since being traded for goalie Michael Leighton in April.

Mason played for the Blue Jackets from 2008-13 and won the Calder Trophy in 2009.

"I wanted [Mason] to play at home, I really did," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "It's easier when he plays against his old team when you're at home."

Flyers forward Jakub Voracek will play in Nationwide Arena for the first time since the Blue Jackets traded him to Philadelphia in June 2011. He had 134 points (39-95) in 241 games for Columbus from 2008-11.

"I don't know if [the fans] are going to remember me," Voracek said. "It's been too long, three years. I didn't finish here on a bad note so hopefully it's going to be positive reaction."

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Steve Downie

Zac Rinaldo - Adam Hall - Chris VandeVelde

Braydon Coburn - Kimmo Timonen

Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann

Luke Schenn - Erik Gustafsson

Ray Emery

Steve Mason

Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros

Injured: Vincent Lecavalier (back)


Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

Matt Calvert - Ryan Johansen - RJ Umberger

Nick Foligno - Artem Anisimov - Marian Gaborik

Corey Tropp - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Curtis McElhinney

Mike McKenna

Scratched: Tim Erixon

Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin), Dalton Prout (upper body), Nathan Horton (left shoulder), Jared Boll (left foot), Derek MacKenzie (lower body), Jack Skille (upper body)

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