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Penguins aim to bounce back vs. Blue Jackets

by Jon Lane

BLUE JACKETS (12-14-3) at PENGUINS (20-10-1)


Last 10: Columbus 6-4-0; Pittsburgh 7-2-1

Season Series: The Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins play the third of five games. The Penguins swept the Blue Jackets in a home-and-home series Nov. 1 and 2.

Big Story: Although the Blue Jackets will be without reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky (strained groin) for the next month, Curtis McElhinney delivered in his first start since Bobrovsky's injury. McElhinney's 20 saves led the Blue Jackets to a 4-0 win against the Minnesota Wild on Friday, the first time they've won back-to-back games since Oct. 22 and 25.

McElhinney also stopped all seven shots he faced this past Tuesday after Bobrovsky left in the third period of a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. As a team, the Blue Jackets have gone 137:54 without allowing a goal. The franchise record is 199:19, set by Steve Mason, from Dec. 23, 2008 to Jan. 2, 2009.

''It's a good feeling for me to step in here again and have another shutout game, another win,'' McElhinney said. ''Hopefully, it's the start of something good and we can keep it going.''

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: Key for Columbus is taking a lead into the third period. Once Cam Atkinson and Nick Foligno scored goals in the second period Friday, victory was virtually assured based on history. The Blue Jackets' win improved them to 35-0-0 under Todd Richards when leading after two periods.

"We’re hungry right now," Foligno said Sunday. "As a team, we’re not happy where we are. but we're excited about where we want to go."

Penguins: Pittsburgh comes off a loss Saturday to the Boston Bruins when Zdeno Chara's goal with 13 seconds left was the difference in a 3-2 defeat at TD Garden. The Penguins led 2-1 for much of the third period until the Bruins scored the decisive two goals in 76 seconds.

"We have to find a way to close that out," center Brandon Sutter said. "That's just one of those games on the road against a good team that you have to win when you're up by a goal late like that. You have to find a way to close it out."

Who's hot: Foligno has points in three of his past four games (3-1-4) for the Blue Jackets and is on pace for a career-high 23 goals and 46 points, one shy of his career-best with the Ottawa Senators in 2011-12 … Penguins center Sidney Crosby has points in eight straight games (7-9-16). Chris Kunitz has 31 points in 31 games and extended his point streak to seven Saturday (6-4-10).

Injury report: Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski (upper body) will miss "about a week," according to Richards. Marian Gaborik (sprained knee) is out for another two weeks. Nathan Horton (shoulder surgery) likely won't be ready for at least another month. Jared Boll (bruised left foot) and Cody Bass (broken thumb) are on injured reserve … Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (lower body) participated in the morning skate Monday and is a game-time decision. Brooks Orpik (head) is out indefinitely. Tomas Vokun (blood clot in hip), Rob Scuderi (ankle surgery), Beau Bennett (wrist surgery), Tanner Glass (broken right hand), Paul Martin (undisclosed) and Andrew Ebbett (broken ankle) are on IR.


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