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Avalanche Roll Into Columbus

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The Blue Jackets, winners in four of their last six, look to keep pace in the wild-card race, as the Colorado Avalanche invade Nationwide.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Mile High Hockey

The Columbus Blue Jackets welcome into town a surprise contender in the Western Conference Thursday night. The Colorado Avalanche, who had the worst record in the NHL last season, find themselves just on the outside of the last wild card in the Western Conference entering play today.

Meanwhile, for the Jackets, who have won four of their past six games, can win their third-straight game for the first time since November when they captured six straight.

Columbus got a huge performance out of surprise starter, backup Joonas Korpisalo, in Tuesday’s 4-1 over Vegas. Colorado comes into Columbus after a 2-1 loss to the Blackhawks Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, John Tortorella’s team was able to shut down the Golden Knights’ top line, a combined -8. The Jackets now get set to face another top trio in Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, and Mikko Rantanen.

Rolling Avalanche

MacKinnon, the Avs points-leader, had a goal in the loss to Chicago and is having a career year for Colorado, setting career-highs in points (78), goals (32), and assists (46). He comes in on a mile-high six-game point streak (seven goals, six assists), and has four multi-point games over his last eight, including a five-point game March 2 against the Wild.

MacKinnon had an assist and seven shots on net in the 2-0 win over Columbus Jan. 4 in Colorado.

Landeskog (21-27-48) has points (two goals, six assists) in his last 12 while Rantanen (22-42-64) has eight points (3-5) over his last five games.

For the Jackets, Artemi Panarin is red-hot, and with his three-point game against Vegas, now has eight points in his last nine (six goals, six assists). The Jackets’ power-play is in the middle of a 0-for-11 rut during March, but the penalty kill has tightened up, only surrendering one goal in the last 11 chances.

Riding the Hot Hand

It appears as if whatever ails Sergei Bobrovsky is still hindering the No. 1 netminder. He was on the ice today for morning skate but Korpisalo will start tonight, as he looks to carry Tuesday’s momentum forward. Bobrovsky will serve as his backup.

Semyon Varlamov (18-13-5, 2.81 GAA, .914 SV%) had won three consecutive games before dropping his last two starts in overtime. Jonathan Bernier (17-11-2, 2.82, .914%), who shutout the Jackets with 34 saves back in January, is returning from a concussion and could start. It would be his first start since Feb. 16.

Faceoff

Game Notes

Projected Lineups

Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Landeskog Nathan MacKinnon Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost Alexander Kerfoot Nail Yakupov
Blake Comeau Carl Soderberg Matthew Nieto
JT Compher Dominic Toninato Gabriel Borque
Nikita Zadorov Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth Samuel Girard
Duncan Siemens Anton Lindholm
Semyon Varlamov
Jonathan Bernier
Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Sonny Milano Nick Foligno Oliver Bjorkstrand
Boone Jenner Alexander Wennberg Thomas Vanek
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Mark Letestu
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Jack Johnson Ryan Murray
Ian Cole David Savard
Joonas Korpislao
Sergei Bobrovsky