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Russian goalie duel highlights Blue Jackets-Oilers

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS – Coming off a 3-0 victory against the Nashville Predators, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will start on consecutive nights for the Edmonton Oilers when they play Friday at the Columbus Blue Jackets but the home team has seven other reasons to be wary.

That number was the final margin in the Oilers' 7-0 victory on Nov. 19 - game that still burns in the minds of the Blue Jackets.

"We were embarrassed when we went into Edmonton," Blue Jackets left wing Blake Comeau said. "Everybody remembers that."

Columbus (9-13-3) coach Todd Richards said the defeat was personal.

"As coaches we're able to remember some games," he said. "If this happened two months ago, three months ago you'd still remember it. Maybe as a player it becomes something you don't remember as well but because it was so recent it should be in our players' minds."

Meanwhile, Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins had a tough but pleasant choice: He could go with Bryzgalov after making 33 saves against the Predators in his first start and is 10-5-0 with two shutouts in his career against the Blue Jackets.

Or, he could use Devan Dubnyk, who needed to make only 14 saves in blanking the Blue Jackets 12 days ago and is 7-3-2 against them.

Eakins opted to go with Bryzgalov to create the second meeting between two contenders to start in goal for the Russians at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"He's a veteran guy. He had a great game last night and will continue to roll," Eakins said Friday morning. "You flip back and forth. It's back-to-back games. He's only been here a couple of weeks back playing. Is he going to be tired? I don't think so.

"It's an easy decision but one I wanted to sleep on as well."

Bryzgalov and the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky met on Feb. 22, 2011, when Bryzgalov made 37 saves in a 3-2 overtime for the Phoenix Coyotes against the Philadelphia Flyers and Bobrovsky (26 saves).

Edmonton (8-16-2) has won four of five while the Blue Jackets hope to rebound from a 4-0 defeat to Nashville on Wednesday.

"After coming off a 10-day road trip and losing at home like that was frustrating," Comeau said. "We have to get back to forechecking, playing physical, not giving the other team very many shots and opportunities."

The game Friday will mark the Blue Jackets debut of forward Corey Tropp, who was claimed off waivers from the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.

Tropp, 24, missed most of last season with a knee injury and suffered a broken jaw in a Sept. 22 preseason game when he was slammed to the ice by Jamie Devane of the Toronto Maple Leafs to ignite a brawl.

"Everything is fine," he said. "I'm ready to go. It's just an exciting opportunity."

He had one assist in nine games this season.

"Obviously, it's been a frustrating little stint in Buffalo with all the changes," Tropp said. "When the coach changes, the GM changes, it's tough for everybody."

Here are the projected lineups for Edmonton at Columbus at Nationwide Arena:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - Ales Hemsky

Ryan Smyth - Boyd Gordon- David Perron

Jesse Joensuu - Mark Arcobello - Ryan Jones

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Denis Grebeshkov - Jeff Schultz

Nick SchultzAnton Belov

Ilya Bryzgalov

Devan Dubnyk

Out: Tyler Pitlick (knee), Richard Bachman (lower body), Philip Larsen (back)

Scratched: Will Acton, Luke Gazdic, Corey Potter


Matt Calvert - Artem Anisimov - Cam Atkinson

Nick Foligno - Ryan Johansen - Boone Jenner

R.J. Umberger - Mark Letestu - Blake Comeau

Corey Tropp - Michael Chaput - Jack Skille

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita NikitinDalton Prout

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: Jared Boll (foot), Brandon Dubinsky (foot), Marian Gaborik (knee), Nathan Horton (left shoulder surgery), Derek MacKenzie (back

Scratched: David Savard

NOTE: Nikitin (foot) is a game-time decision. Savard will play if he can't.

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