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Streaking 'Canes shoot for rare win over Blue Jackets
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Carolina Hurricanes are looking to extend their longest winning streak of the season on Friday night, but to do so they'll need to best the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first in over eight years.
The recent hot-play of Jeff Skinner could make that task a bit simpler.
Skinner was one of six goal scorers for the Hurricanes in last night's 6-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina's fifth victory in a row. The goal was his 17th in his past 17 games and 21st of the season.
The young forward also had an assist, giving him seven goals and five helpers over a six-game point streak.
With older brother Eric Staal out with a lower-body injury, Jordan Staal had a goal and three assists, while Swede Elias Lindholm notched a goal and two helpers in his first game with Carolina since Dec. 12. The fifth overall pick of the 2013 draft had been away playing in the World Junior Championship.
Zach Boychuk also had a goal and an assist, while John-Michael Liles scored against the club that traded him to Carolina on Jan. 1.
"Everyone played really well tonight," said Jordan Staal, who matched a career high for most points in a game and surpassed 300 career points. "We're getting some great saves from the goalies when we need them, and we're sticking with our game and pucks are going in."
Anton Khudobin made 25 saves to win his fourth straight start and improve to 6-0-0 with a 1.84 goals against average in seven starts this season.
Carolina is without No. 1 goaltender Cam Ward due to a lower-body injury, but has still posted its longest winning streak since a seven-game run from Feb. 5-March 4, 2010.
The Hurricanes, though, have not beat the Blue Jackets since a 2-1 home win on Dec. 15, 2005. They have lost six straight in this series since and three in a row in Columbus since its last victory in Ohio on March 8, 2004.
Skinner has three goals in three career games versus the Blue Jackets, scoring twice in a 4-3 home loss on Dec. 23. Alexander Semin added a goal and an assist, while Justin Peters made 21 saves.
Peters was facing the Blue Jackets for the first time in his career and could draw the start tonight. Khudobin has never faced Columbus.
The Blue Jackets got goals from Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille 1:28 apart late in the third period to earn that win over the Hurricanes and one of Mike McKenna's 30 saves came on Skinner in close in the final 30 seconds of action.
Sergei Bobrovsky is the likely starter tonight for Columbus and is 4-1-0 with a 2.01 goals against average in five career meetings with the Hurricanes.
Bobrovsky made his first start since Dec. 3 on Monday, posting 40 saves in a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Rangers. Bobrovsky had been out with a strained groin and served as the backup in two straight before his recent start.
Mark Letestu and Johansen had shootout goals, while Brandon Dubinsky and James Wisniewski both had a goal and an assist in regulation to help Columbus split a four-game road trip.
"They had us on our heels for a while there in the third," said Letestu. "But we were able to rally and get a big two points against a real good team that we're fighting for position."
The Blue Jackets, who visit the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, are expected to have forward Matt Calvert back in the lineup after activating him off injured reserve on Thursday. Calvert had missed the past seven games with an upper- body injury and has supplied four goals and four assists in 17 games this season.
However, forward Blake Comeau is slated to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks with a sprained left MCL suffered in practice on Thursday.
01/10 11:22:55 ET