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Jackets get reinforcements as they face Flyers again

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (16-15-4) at BLUE JACKETS (14-17-4)


Last 10: Philadelphia 5-3-2; Columbus 5-4-1

Season series: The Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets conclude their home-and-home set at Nationwide Arena. The Flyers won the opener 5-4 Thursday in Philadelphia. It will mark the 13th time the teams have played since Columbus entered the NHL in 2000.

Big story: The Blue Jackets were smarting Friday after their loss at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, but there will be reinforcements for the rematch Saturday as forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski will return to the lineup.

Gaborik has 11 points in 17 games but hasn't played since Nov. 14 due to a knee injury. His return led to coach Todd Richards switching his forward lines, most notably splitting his top trio of Ryan Johansen centering RJ Umberger and Nick Foligno. Matt Calvert moved into Foligno's spot on the left wing with Umberger and Johansen, while Foligno went to left wing with Gaborik on the right side and Artem Anisimov in the middle.

Wisniewski, out since Dec. 6 with an upper-body injury, split time with Nikita Nikitin and Tim Erixon on the third defense pair.

Richards had said prior to the loss in Philadelphia that he expected Gaborik and Wisniewski to be ready Saturday. However, he said the team can't change the way it's been playing.

"That can be a real shot in the arm to a team," Richards said Thursday. "But we can't go into games thinking that these guys are going to come in and we don't have to play now, we can sit around and watch them. They should make us better but we need to do the things that we need to do and each player still has to do what they do."

Team Scope:

Flyers: Multiple Flyers players this season have said goaltender Steve Mason has been the team's most valuable player. But when Mason went around the room after the Flyers' come-from-behind 5-4 win against the Blue Jackets on Thursday to thank his teammates for helping him get a win against his former team, captain Claude Giroux told him it wasn't necessary.

"So many times to start the year he bailed us out," Giroux said after scoring the tying and winning goals Thursday night. "For us to come back and get that win for him, he was really happy after the game to have a little help from us."

After an outstanding start to the season Mason has struggled recently. He's 3-1-2 in his past seven games but has allowed four goals in four of them.

Coach Craig Berube said it was good for Mason to see that he doesn't have to put too much pressure on himself.

"I mean I hope it doesn't think that way," Berube said. "It's a team game and we need everybody. Especially [Thursday] you need everybody to show up all the time, otherwise you're going to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. You need 20 guys to show up."

Blue Jackets: One day after blowing third-period leads of 3-0 and 4-2 in the 5-4 loss to the Flyers, the Blue Jackets had to sit through the game again. And the replay was worse than the live version.

"I think [Thursday] is going to stick with me for a while," Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "Just really disappointed. Disgusted. Embarrassed. Those were the words that I used when I went back to watch the game."

"My game, it was certainly worse on the video than I thought," center Brandon Dubinsky told the Dispatch. "I'm sure a lot of guys would say the same thing."

Richards said he hopes what happened Thursday and the repeat viewing Friday serves as inspiration for the rematch Saturday.

"It should be pretty easy to get some energy and get a hard practice after [the game Thursday]," Richards said. "It was everyone. Everyone had struggles. It wasn't matchups. It wasn't one particular line. It was all the lines, all defensive pairs."

Who's hot: Giroux has four goals and six assists during his five-game point-scoring streak. ... Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson has three goals and three assists in his past five games.

Injury report: Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier (back) is out. ... The Blue Jackets will be without forwards Nathan Horton (shoulder), Cody Bass (thumb), Jared Boll (ankle) and Derek MacKenzie (lower body), defenseman Dalton Prout (upper body) and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (groin). Forward Jack Skille (hand) is questionable.

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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