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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (43-19-15) at Columbus Blue Jackets (39-30-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Looking to move up the Metropolitan Division ladder, the Columbus Blue Jackets seek their first home victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in over four years as the two clubs square off on Friday night.
The Blue Jackets are 2-0-1 in their last three games and 3-3-1 over the previous seven contests as they continue to chase the second playoff appearance in club history. Columbus is one point ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but with two games in hand.
The Washington Capitals are four points back, and like the Blue Jackets have six games remaining.
Columbus made things interesting in the race for the three automatic playoff bids in the Metropolitan Division, picking up a 2-0 victory last night over Philadelphia to move within two points of the Flyers for third place.
In his first game as the visitor in Philadelphia, Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves to blank his former Flyers club.
Bobrovsky's fourth shutout of the season and the eighth of his career gave the Blue Jackets their first-ever win in Philadelphia. They had been 0-5-0 with a tie in the previous six trips.
"Yeah (it) was special, definitely," Bobrovsky said his return to Philadelphia. "It was exciting. It was different; it's tough to explain."
James Wisniewski and Brandon Dubinsky scored for the Blue Jackets.
After picking up its first victory in Philadelphia, Columbus will look to top Chicago at home for the first time since March 25, 2010. The Blackhawks have won eight straight trips to Ohio since as well as 12 in a row and 15 of the last 17 meetings overall.
The Blackhawks picked up a 6-1 home victory over the Blue Jackets on March 6, getting two goals from both Jonathan Toews and Andrew Shaw.
Toews, though, will miss the rest of the regular season due to injury, joining fellow forward Patrick Kane on the sidelines. Kane also isn't expected to return until at least the playoffs due to injury.
Minus the duo, Chicago picked up a 3-2 victory in a shootout over the Minnesota Wild last night. Marian Hossa had the lone shootout tally and Corey Crawford finished up a 25-save effort by going perfect in the tiebreaker.
Ben Smith and Bryan Bickell, returning from a six-game absence caused by injury, each scored once in the win.
"I thought we played the way we had to be: plain and simple," Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said. "We didn't give up much all game."
The Blackhawks were forced to scratch defenseman Johnny Oduya late due to a lower-body injury, but still remained three points behind Colorado for second place in the Central Division.
The Avalanche topped the New York Rangers in a shootout on Thursday and are idle tonight with a game in hand over the Blackhawks.
04/04 10:51:06 ET