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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, October 25th (All times Eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (7-3-0) at Columbus Blue Jackets (4-5-0), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets take aim at their first three- game winning streak of the season when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in Friday's clash at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus doubled its win total for the season over the past two games, beating Vancouver and New Jersey to improve to 4-5-0 on the year. Another win tonight would give the Blue Jackets three victories in a row for the first time since closing last season's lockout-shortened campaign on a three-game winning streak.
The Blue Jackets last played on Tuesday when they downed the visiting Devils by a 4-1 score. Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski posted a goal and two assists to help his team defeat its foe from the Metropolitan Division.
Brandon Dubinsky, Cam Atkinson and Marian Gaborik supplied the other tallies for the Blue Jackets, who had lost four straight prior to the recent mini- surge.
"We played a smart systematic game. I liked the way we managed the puck and I liked how we managed our shifts," said Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards, whose club improved to 29-0-0 when leading after two periods under his leadership.
Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots to earn his first win over New Jersey since December of 2010 while still a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Bobrovsky has solid career numbers against Toronto, going 3-1-0 with a 2.26 goals against average in four lifetime games versus the Leafs.
Toronto snapped a two-game slide in its last trip to the ice, registering a 4-2 win Tuesday against the visiting Anaheim Ducks. Phil Kessel was the star for the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, notching his fourth career hat trick to lead Toronto past the Ducks. Dion Phaneuf had the other goal and James van Riemsdyk posted two assists for the Maple Leafs.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 23 shots in the win and could get a third straight start tonight.
"Our goaltender made some big stops and our defense played huge," Maple leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said.
Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul is questionable for Friday's game after suffering a bruised foot while blocking a shot in practice. Lupul, who is leading Toronto this season with six goals and is second on the team with 10 points, is considered day-to-day. Josh Leivo was recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL to fill in for Lupul if he's unable to go on Friday.
The Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets are facing each other for the first time since Nov. 3, 2011, a 4-1 road victory for Toronto. All told, the Maple Leafs are 6-1-2 with a tie in 10 all-time meetings against Columbus.
Columbus is playing the third part of a four-game homestand on Friday and will complete the residency Sunday against Anaheim. Toronto, meanwhile, begins a stretch of four road games in five trips to the ice tonight, but will host Pittsburgh on Saturday.
10/25 10:45:15 ET
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