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O'Reilly back in fold, Avalanche face Blue Jackets

by Tal Pinchevsky

AVALANCHE (9-9-3) at BLUE JACKETS (5-12-4)


Last 10: Colorado 4-3-3; Columbus 2-6-2

Season series: This is the second of three meetings this season between these teams. Colorado topped Columbus 4-0 in Denver on Jan. 24, although the Blue Jackets held a slight 2-1-1 edge in last season's series.

Big story: Both clubs have been struggling lately. But with the Avalanche adding holdout Ryan O'Reilly after matching the Calgary Flames' offer sheet, and forward Artem Anisimov back with Columbus following a scary head injury, both teams have made important additions to their rosters.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: The holdout of restricted free agent O'Reilly finally came to an end this week when Colorado matched the offer sheet the forward signed with Calgary for what is believed to be two years and $10 million. And as luck would have it, the Avalanche's first game after ending the standoff was at home against the Flames on Thursday night.

Calgary came out flying in Colorado, scoring three goals in the opening period to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Ryan O'Byrne and David Jones cut the Calgary lead to 3-2 in the second, but Jarome Iginla's power-play goal appeared to give the Flames a comfortable two-goal lead entering the third.

But Gabriel Landeskog scored 23 seconds into the third, giving him his first goal since the opening week of the season. Paul Stastny then tied the game six minutes later thanks to a perfect Landeskog pass and Matt Duchene completed the comeback in a wild 5-4 Colorado win.

"It was good hockey in the last two periods," said Landeskog, who had the first three-point game of his NHL career. "It [stunk] coming into the room after the first period, I can tell you that much."

Blue Jackets: Before opening a stretch in which they will play nine of their next 10 games at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets came to Chicago to take on a Blackhawks team that still had yet to lose in regulation or overtime this season. Vinny Prospal got Columbus off to an early lead just 31 seconds into the game, marking the first time all season that the Blackhawks trailed in the opening minute of a game.

Chicago would tie the game up late in the first before Anisimov gave Columbus the lead once more in his first game since a scary collision in Detroit on Feb. 21 that left him motionless on the ice. The Blackhawks responded with two goals to take their first lead of the game before Ryan Johansen scored his first of the season thanks to a nifty deke that beat Chicago goaltender Ray Emery.

But as they've done all season, Chicago found a way to win, with Brent Seabrook finishing a perfect pass from Jonathan Toews in overtime to hand the Blue Jackets their 10th loss in the last 12 games.

Who's hot: Colorado wing PA Parenteau has four points in his last four games while Paul Stastny has three points in his last three games. … For Columbus, Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno both have three points (all assists) in their last two games while Derek Dorsett has five points in his last six games.

Injury report: David Jones is questionable for Colorado with a lower-body injury while Steve Downie (knee surgery), Erik Johnson (upper body) and Ryan Wilson (lower body) are on injured reserve. Goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere returned to Montreal for his mother's funeral and will miss the game. … Defenseman John Moore sustained an upper-body injury during Friday's practice and Derick Brassard is already out with an upper-body injury. In addition, Ryan Murray (shoulder surgery), James Wisniewski (broken foot), Brandon Dubinsky (knee) and Jack Johnson (upper body) are on IR.

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