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Game #51 Preview: Blue Jackets look for season-high six-game winning streak

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Last one before the break!

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Columbus Blue Jackets v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images

Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 7:30 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Fox Sports Ohio - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s blog: Arctic Ice Hockey

Winnipeg Jets, 25-20-4, 54 points, 4th Central, 9th West

@

Columbus Blue Jackets, 26-16-8, 60 points, 5th Metro, 7th East

The Columbus Blue Jackets, seeking a season-high six-game winning streak, enter their last game before the All-Star Break and bye week with a home game against the Winnipeg Jets. Both teams played in November, nearly two months to the day, up in Winnipeg, with Columbus falling late, 4-3. Elvis Merzlikins started in net for Columbus, but it’s been a different team and goalie since then.

Columbus comes in to tonight’s game with points in 19 of the last 21 games. They’ve lost two games in regulation over that span, both against the Sharks. On Sunday they continued the trend with a 2-1 win against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, and Matiss Kivlenieks earned his first-career win in his NHL debut.

Meanwhile, the Jets, who have won the past three meetings with Columbus, are coming in off a 4-1 loss against the Hurricanes Tuesday night in Carolina.

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Player to Watch

Oliver Bjorkstrand returned to action for Columbus last time out against the Rangers, and returned to his scoring ways with both goals in the process. Prior to missing 13 games with a rib injury, Bjorkstrand was really coming into his own as a scoring threat in the clubs’ first 36 games with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points. At the time of that injury, Bjorkstrand co-led the Jackets with 12 goals and was three off the points pace with 23. The funny (or sad, really) thing is Bjorkstrand is only one off the goals pace now. In the four games prior to the injury, Bjorkstrand had seven points (five goals, two assists), with multi-goal games against the Devils and Capitals. He now has multi-goal games in his last two games and three of his last five.

Jackets Notes

The Blue Jackets play their final game before the All-Star Break this weekend in St. Louis, and then the subsequent bye week next week. ... They’ll return to the ice in Buffalo for a 1:00 pm matinee Feb. 1 against the Sabres, followed by a 2:00 pm start Feb. 2 at the Canadiens. ... They’ll return home to face Sergei Bobrovsky and the Panthers Feb. 4 at 7:00 pm. ... Adam Clendening has been named to the AHL All-Star Game. ... Cam Atkinson has eight goals in his last 11 games, and is two away from 200 career. ... Alexander Wennberg has been hot, with nine points (three goals, six assists) in his past 11 games; my preseason prediction was 10 goals for Wennberg and he needs five more. ... His next point will be career no. 200. ... Remember that little dustup over the summer involving Sonny Milano? Well, that’s settled, and here’s a note about that, as he missed practice yesterday...for a good reason.

Then there was this nice tweet from Blue Jackets Insider Jeff Svoboda:

The Other Bench

The Jets find themselves just outside of the wild card race and this is also their final game before the All Star break and bye week. ... Dustin Byfuglin, who had ankle surgery in October, has not played this season after stepping away for personal reasons. ... Mark Scheifele paces the Jets in scoring with 54 points and 31 assists. He’s second in goals (23) behind Kyle Connor (24). ... Neal Pionk leads the Jets with 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) on the power play. ... Connor Hellebuyck (21-16-4, .917, 2.64), who started last night for the Jets, is the horse in goal for Winnipeg with 40 starts on the season, and his 21 wins are fourth in the league. ... Laurent Brossoit, who started the last game between these teams in November but left with a cramp, is 4-5-0, .885, 3.67.

Season Series

11/23/2019 CBJ 3 @ WPG 4
1/22/2020 WPG @ CBJ

Stats Preview

Winnipeg Columbus
2.92 (20) GPG 2.68 (24)
3.10 (18) GAPG 2.50 (2)
19.6% (16) PP% 17.1% (23)
75.0% (28) PK% 82.3% (9)
48.00% (25) 5v5 Corsi % 48.40% (22)
46.90% (29) 5v5 Fenwick % 50.30% (12)
8.1 (19) 5v5 Shot % 7.2 (27)
.922 (11) 5v5 Save % .933 (1)
Kyle Connor,
24
G Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, Zach Werenski,
15
Mark Scheifele,
31
A Leader Seth Jones,
22
Mark Scheifele,
54
P Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois,
35
Mark Scheifele,
43
PIM Leader Nick Foligno,
52
3-6-1 Home / Road 15-9-2
14-10-2 Last 10 8-2-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Nick Foligno Pierre-Luc Dubois Oliver Bjorkstrand
Gustav Nyquist Alexander Wennberg Cam Atkinson
Nathan Gerbe Boone Jenner Emil Bemstrom
Jakob Lilja Riley Nash Eric Robinson
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Scott Harrington Markus Nutivaara
Elvis Merzlikins
Matiss Kivlenieks

Winnipeg Jets

Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers Blake Wheeler Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault Andrew Copp Mason Appleton
Gabriel Bourque Nick Shore Jansen Harkins
Josh Morrissey Dmitry Kulikov
Luca Sbisa Neal Pionk
Anthony Bitetto Sami Niku
Laurent Brossoit
Connor Hellebuyck