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Game #31 Preview: Blue Jackets try to keep the good times rolling

It’s round III of Blue Jackets and Penguins.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 7:00 EST
PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
TV: ESPN+, Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Pensburgh

Columbus Blue Jackets (12-14-4, 28 points, 7th Metro, 13th East)


Pittsburgh Penguins (17-9-4, 38 points, 5th Metro, 6th East)

The Blue Jackets have split the first two games of the season series with the Penguins, most recently winning 5-2 on Black Friday behind Gustav Nyquist’s second career hat trick. Columbus is also coming off a 5-2 win in their last outing against the league-best Capitals on Monday night. That game saw Cam Atkinson score twice for his first multi-goal game, and just his second multi-point game this season. He now has three goals in his last three games following a sluggish start offensively.

Pittsburgh has done its part to stay towards the upper echelon of the Metro division, but they saw their three-game win streak end with a 4-1 loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday.

Player to Watch

Pierre-Luc Dubois is tied for second among points with 18, and leads the club with 10 goals, but he’ll enter tonight without a goal in his last eight games. Over that span, he has just one assist, which came Nov. 29 against Pittsburgh. In 10 career games, Dubois has seven points (one goal, six assists).

Jackets Notes

As you can see, Joonas Korpisalo had himself quite the night in Monday’s win against the Capitals.

... As Insider Jeff Svoboda wrote Wednesday, John Tortorella aims to develop Alexandre Texier into playing center; “I think we need to start developing him right away as a center because I think that’s what he’s going to be.” ... What does that mean for Alexander Wennberg? That’s pretty clear and Tortorella didn’t mince words Monday, prior to the game against the Caps, in which Wennberg had an assist:

The Blue Jackets are 0-5-3 in their last eight visits to Pittsburgh. ... Seth Jones is one game away from playing 300 career with the Blue Jackets, and is two away from 500 games played overall. ... Sonny Milano is two games away from 100 career games played. ... Emil Bemstrom is going to be out 6-8 weeks with a dislocated rib and broken cartilage suffered on Saturday in the game at the Panthers ... On behalf of all of us at The Cannon, we send best wishes to Jody Shelley who is recovering from appendicitis.

... But with that comes the surprising and happy temporary return of Bill Davidge!

The Other Bench

Head coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday that Sidney Crosby is “doing great” as he recovers following sports hernia surgery last month. ... There is no timetable for the return of the Penguins captain, who has 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) on the season. ... Nick Bjugstad (undisclosed), Brian Dumoulin (lower body), and Patric Hornqvist (knee) are all currently out. ... Tristan Jarry is 12-10-7, .938 SV%, 1.92 GAA. ... Matt Murray is 10-5-4, .897 SV%, 2.85 GAA. ... Jake Guentzel is the leading scorer (32 points), (17 goals), and second on the team with 15 assists behind Evgeni Malkin’s 19. ... No one else on the Penguins has reached double-digit goals. ... In spite of this, the Penguins are still a lethal scoring team (7th, 3.32 GF/GP) and have 14 different players with at least 10 points. ... Conversely the Penguins do a good job defensively in keeping the puck out of the net (10th, 2.74 GA/GP). ... Jack Johnson (4—1-3) is somehow a +8, and is one game away from 900 career games played.

Season Series

10/5/2019 CBJ 2 @ PIT 7
11/29/2019 PIT 2 @ CBJ 5
12/12/2019 CBJ @ PIT
03/12/2020 PIT @ CBJ

Stats Preview

Pittsburgh Columbus
3.32 (7) GPG 2.53 (28)
2.74 (8) GAPG 3.07 (19)
15.9% (24) PP% 18.2% (18)
81.0% (15) PK% 80.0% (17)
53.72% (2) 5v5 Corsi % 50.76% (12)
54.71% (1) 5v5 Fenwick % 52.67% (6)
8.7 (9) 5v5 Shot % 6.5 (29)
.921 (11) 5v5 Save % .919 (14)
Jake Guentzel,
G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
Evgeni Malkin,
A Leader Seth Jones,
Jake Guentzel,
P Leader Gustav Nyquist,
Teddy Blueger, Patric Hornqvist,
PIM Leader Nick Foligno,
12-4-2 Home / Road 4-6-3
6-3-1 Last 10 4-6-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Sonny Milano Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver Bjorkstrand
Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Gustav Nyquist Alexandre Texier Cam Atkinson
Alexander Wennberg Riley
Eric Robinson
Dean Kukan Seth Jones
Ryan Murray David Savard
Vladislav Gavrikov Andrew Peeke
Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jake Guentzel Evgeni Malkin Bryan
Dominik Kahun Jared McCann Zach Aston-Reese
Alex Galchenyuk Teddy Blueger Brandon Tanev
Dominik Simon Sam Lafferty Stefan Noesen
Kris Letang John Marino
Jack Johnson Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson Chad Ruhwedel
Tristan Jarry
Matt Murray