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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, December 14th (All times Eastern)

St. Louis Blues (21-6-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-3), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to shake off injuries to their top two goaltenders and match their longest winning streak of the season on Saturday night when they receive a visit from the St. Louis Blues.

The Blue Jackets have opened December by winning four of five and are coming off victories over the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers. That has Columbus in position to match a season-high three-game win streak posted from Oct. 20-25.

But the Blue Jackets will try to do so without No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who suffered a groin injury on Dec. 3, and backup Curtis McElhinney.

McElhinney got the start on Thursday night versus the hosting Rangers, but departed following the first period due to a lower-body injury after stopping 15-of-16 shots faced. Mike McKenna came on in relief and turned aside 17 of the 18 shots fired his way.

Though McElhinney's injury isn't believed to be serious, Jeremy Smith was recalled from Springfield of the American Hockey League and will back up McKenna tonight.

McKenna is expected to make just his 16th career start and first since Nov. 20, 2010 with the Devils. Coincidentally, that outing came versus the Blues and he allowed three goals on 27 shots faced.

Columbus will look to duplicate its start from the Rangers game, when it got first-period goals from Matt Calvert, Artem Anisimov and David Savard. Ryan Johansen added a late insurance tally to push his point streak to seven straight games (3 goals, 6 assists).

"The guys were geared up," Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards remarked. "They were focused and energized and it was a great start."

Columbus will need plenty of energy considering St. Louis has won three of four and eight of its last 11 games.

The Blues also got off to a quick start last time out, scoring three times in the opening period of a 6-3 triumph over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. David Backes scored his first of two goals in the game during the frame, while Jaden Schwartz and Derek Roy also tallied.

Schwartz matched a career high with three points, adding two assists, while Alexander Steen netted his 22nd goal of the season, second-most in the NHL.

"We really created a number of offensive opportunities," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said.

Making his second straight start, Brian Elliott posted 19 saves to improve to 6-1-1 with a 2.14 goals against average this season.

Jaroslav Halak is in line to start tonight for the Blues and is 7-4-1 with a 2.62 GAA in 12 career meetings with the Blue Jackets.

The Blues have won 10 of their last 13 versus the Jackets overall and five of their last seven trips to Columbus.

12/14 10:25:39 ET

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