Avalanche-Blue Jackets Preview

Coming off one of the highest-scoring games in franchise

history, the Columbus Blue Jackets hope not to revert back to their

low-scoring ways.

Facing one of the worst defensive teams in the NHL may help.

The Blue Jackets end a three-game homestand Friday night against

the Colorado Avalanche, who rank near the bottom of the league with

3.29 goals allowed per game.

Columbus tied a franchise high in goals in an 8-1 victory over

St. Louis on Wednesday. The Blue Jackets had been the only team yet

to record more than three goals.

“We were struggling to score goals,” coach Scott Arniel said.

“We’ve had individuals and lines that were working, getting chances

and not getting the rewards from it. Their hard work paid off.”

The Blue Jackets scored four times in just more than a

period.

“It was fun,” said forward Jake Voracek, who scored twice. “It

was good to finally score more than three goals in a game. We

played good from the first minute.”

The margin of victory was the largest in the club’s 10-year

existence. Columbus (9-5-0) has won eight of 11.

Chris Clark scored his first two goals and Derick Brassard had a

career-high three assists, giving him a point in eight straight

games. Rick Nash scored for the third time in four games.

“We did a good job of coming out of the gate and setting the

tone of the game,” Arniel said. “It was a big win over a divisional

opponent. We earned our two points.”

Steve Mason made his first start since Oct. 30 and made 29 saves

to earn his fifth victory.

Columbus will be facing a Colorado club that gave up at least

four goals for the eighth time this season Tuesday, losing 4-2 to

Calgary. Peter Budaj, who has made six straight starts in place of

the injured Craig Anderson, had his scoreless streak snapped at 96

minutes, 33 seconds.

The Avalanche (7-6-1), who lost for the second time in three

games, held a 2-1 lead in the third period before giving up three

unanswered goals in the final 11 minutes.

“You definitely want to stay even-keeled,” forward Brandon Yip

told the team’s official website. “That might be a key part of our

game that we need to work on. Instead, we’re kind of really good

one game and kind of bad the next.”

Colorado lost forwards David Van Der Gulik (torn ACL) and T.J.

Galiardi (broken wrist) as the rash of injuries that has plagued

the team continued.

Looking to add depth, the Avalanche acquired defenseman Ryan

O’Byrne from Montreal on Thursday in exchange for prospect Michael

Bournival. O’Byrne didn’t record a point in three games for the

Canadiens.

We’re banged up right now. But it’s not an excuse,” forward

Chris Stewart said. ”It’s time to show our true character.”

The Blue Jackets are also dealing with injuries after placing

left wing Kristian Huselius, who has a sprained ankle, on injured

reserve Thursday retroactive to Oct. 23. Huselius has three goals

and two assists in seven games.

These teams met Oct. 30 in Colorado, with the Avalanche earning

a 5-1 victory as Paul Stastny and Chris Stewart each had a goal and

an assist.

The Avalanche have won the last five meetings and are 28-7-1

with a tie in the all-time series.