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game preview

Rangers at Blue Jackets preview

New York eyes fourth straight win; Columbus can climb to third place in Metropolitan Division

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

RANGERS (29-23-4) at BLUE JACKETS (30-17-11)

7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, MSG, NHL.TV

 

The Game

The Columbus Blue Jackets can gain in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference wild-card races when they host the New York Rangers at Nationwide Arena on Friday.

The Blue Jackets, winless in three straight games (0-1-2) after going 9-0-1 in their previous 10 games, are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the conference and are one point behind the New York Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan.

Goalie Elvis Merzlikins is expected to start; the rookie is 8-1-1 with a 1.20 goals-against average, .959 save percentage and five shutouts in his past 10 starts.

The Rangers look to extend their winning streak to a season-long four games. New York, 6-2-0 in its past eight games, trails the Blue Jackets and Flyers by nine points.

Goalie Alexandar Georgiev could start for the second straight game after making 23 saves in a 4-3 shootout win at the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

 

Players to watch

Rangers center Mika Zibanejad has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past nine games.

Blue Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstrand has 15 points (11 goals, four assists) in his past 15 games.

 

They said it

"We're aware of our situation. I think it's 10 days until the trade deadline as of tomorrow, and obviously the playoffs looming and where we are in the standings. And we're playing a team we're chasing. It's huge for us." -- Rangers center Ryan Strome

"Just a little bit of me, me, me instead of we, we, we, and if we don't play as we, we're in for some [stuff], I'll tell you right now. So I hope we can curb that as we get ready for our Rangers game." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella after a 4-3 overtime loss at the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday

 

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Artemi Panarin -- Ryan Strome -- Jesper Fast

Phillip Di Giuseppe -- Filip Chytil -- Kaapo Kakko

Brett Howden -- Greg McKegg -- Brendan Lemieux

Brady Skjei -- Jacob Trouba

Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo

Ryan Lindgren -- Adam Fox

Alexandar Georgiev

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Brendan Smith, Joey Keane

Injured: Igor Shesterkin (lower body), Micheal Haley (core muscle surgery)

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

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

Gustav Nyquist -- Boone Jenner -- Emil Bemstrom

Sonny Milano -- Kevin Stenlund -- Eric Robinson

Nathan Gerbe -- Riley Nash -- Jakob Lilja

Zach Werenski -- Markus Nutivaara

Vladislav Gavrikov -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Andrew Peeke

Elvis Merzlikins

Matiss Kivlenieks

Scratched: Gabriel Carlsson

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

 

Status report

Neither team held a morning skate …. Staal, a defenseman, did not play Thursday because of the flu. … Shesterkin, a goalie, is day to day. New York recalled Keane, a defenseman, from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Friday. ... Columbus returned forward Liam Foudy to London of the Ontario Hockey League on Thursday and Lilja was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League.

 

Stat pack

Buchnevich has nine points (five goals, four assists) in his past nine games. … The Blue Jackets are 7-0-2 in their past nine games against Metropolitan Division opponents.

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