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Game #48 Preview: Elvis Merzlikins, Columbus Blue Jackets seek to extend shutout streak vs Carolina Hurricanes

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Here’s what you need to know.

Columbus Blue Jackets v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Carolina Hurricanes at Columbus Blue Jackets
Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s blog: Canes Country

Carolina Hurricanes, 27-17-2, 56 points, 4th Metro, 6th East
@
Columbus Blue Jackets, 23-16-8, 54 points, 6th Metro, 9th East

The Columbus Blue Jackets are hot. With their recent winning streak, stellar run of play, and outstanding goaltending first from Joonas Korpisalo and now from Elvis Merzlikins, the team has managed to crawl back into the playoff race after their slow start to the season. What is most impressive about the streak is who has been in the lineup, or more accurately, who hasn’t. The team has suffered a rash of injuries, but now some of those players are starting to return.

With these moves, the Jackets are beginning to get back to full strength. Can Elvis keep up his hot play and the team win a key Metro Division matchup tonight? Let’s find out.

Player to Watch

Cam Atkinson

Activated off of injured reserve yesterday and set to make his return to the lineup tonight, Atkinson will be asked to step into the lineup and contribute in all zones, in all situations. In his last five games before he went out with a high ankle sprain, Atkinson had posted just a 2-1-3, improvement over his struggles early in the season that has his scoring total for the year at 9-12-21. When he was injured with a broken foot two years ago, Atkinson was able to come back stronger and more mentally in tune with what the team needed and took off. Hopefully he is able to do the same as he returns this time.

Jackets Notes

As noted above, the Blue Jackets made a barrel of roster moves yesterday as players start to return from injured reserve ... Elvis Merzlikins has two straight shutouts and has not allowed a goal in 137:52 ... Alexander Wennberg has goals in back to back games, bringing his total to four on the season and his first back to back goals since 2017 ... Emil Bemstrom does not face supplemental discipline for his accidental hit that knocked out Tuukka Rask on Tuesday night, per the Department of Player Safety ... Nathan Gerbe has 2-2-4 in his last five games for the Jackets, making his case to stay in the lineup even as players return from injury ... John Tortorella is seeking his 200th win with the Blue Jackets tonight

The Other Bench

The Carolina Hurricanes are just .500 since the start of 2020 ... In their last game out, the Hurricanes were shut out by the Washington Capitals 2-0 as Ilya Samsonov earned his first career shutout ... Justin Williams came out of retirement last week and signed a one year contract with the Hurricanes, and though the timeline for his debut is unclear, Williams will not play tonight ... Peter Mrazek is 2-3-0 with a .932 SV% in his last five starts, while James Reimer is 7-2-0 with a .929 SV%

Season Series

10/12/2019 CBJ 3 @ CAR 2
10/24/2019 CAR 3 @ CBJ 4
01/16/2020 CAR @ CBJ
04/03/2020 CBJ @ CAR

Stats

Carolina Columbus
3.22 (12) GPG 2.64 (28)
2.72 (7) GAPG 2.60 (5)
22.1% (8) PP% 17.7% (23)
82.4% (10) PK% 81.8% (12)
54.80% (1) 5v5 Corsi % 48.93% (20)
54.46% (1) 5v5 Fenwick % 50.91% (10)
7.47% (24) 5v5 Shot % 6.87% (27)
.918 (15) 5v5 Save % .929 (6)
Sebastian Aho, 23 G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Zach Werenski, 15
Teuvo Teravainen, 34 A Leader Seth Jones, Gustav Nyquist, 21
Teuvo Teravainen, 43 P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 34
Joel Edmundson, 49 PIM Leader Nick Foligno, 50
12-9-2 Home / Road 13-9-2
5-5-0 Last 10 6-2-2

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Sonny Milano Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Gustav Nyquist Boone Jenner Nick Foligno
Nathan Gerbe Alexander Wennberg Kevin Stenlund
Emil Bemstrom Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Elvis Merzlikins
Veini Vehvilainen
Carolina Hurricanes
Nino Niederreiter Sebastian Aho Teuvo Teravainen
Andrew Svechnikov Jordan Staal Warren Foegele
Ryan Dzingel Eric Haula Martin Necas
Brock McGinn Lucas Wallmark Jordan Martinook
Jaccob Slavin Dougie Hamilton
Jake Gardiner Brett Pesce
Joel Edmundson Trevor van Riemsdyk
Petr Mrazek
James Reimer