Banged-up Blue Jackets play host to Devils
A number of significant injuries appear to be taking their toll on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Perhaps facing the New Jersey Devils – struggling with inconsistent goaltending of late – can help them wake up.
Columbus looks to establish better offensive consistency Tuesday night when it hosts New Jersey.
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Already without Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton, the Blue Jackets (12-15-3) added James Wisniewski to the injury list prior to Monday’s 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh. Wisniewski, whose 18 points are second on the team, suffered an upper-body injury in Friday’s 4-0 win over Minnesota. He’s expected to also miss at least the next three games, coach Todd Richards told the team’s website.
Columbus’ only score Monday came from Matt Calvert in the final minute of play. The Blue Jackets, who outshot the Penguins 33-30, had gone 6-4-0 in a stretch during which they registered 22 or fewer shots eight times.
“I thought we had some offensive zone time,” Richards said. “But that’s where we have to be a little bit better – creating once we have the puck. Pucks behind their net and being able to beat a check one-on-one and break down their coverage because you beat somebody.”
Curtis McElhinney was again strong filling in for injured reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky, stopping 28 shots three nights after shutting out the Wild.
Columbus claimed a 4-1 home victory over New Jersey on Oct. 22, ending a five-game skid in the series, though Wisniewski played a big role with one goal and two assists.
The Devils (12-13-6) come off a 4-3 overtime road win over the Rangers on Saturday, only their third win in nine games. Eric Gelinas scored on the power play 1:15 into the extra period, helping New Jersey bounce back from a woeful 3-1 loss to Detroit on Friday in which the team tied a franchise low at home with 11 shots.
“These are fun games to play,” said Martin Brodeur, who made 21 saves. “To come in here, get the puck to the net, score some goals, it feels good.”
New Jersey’s goaltending duo of Brodeur and Cory Schneider haven’t been overly impressive lately, posting an .884 save percentage over the last nine games and allowing three or more goals in six of eight.
Brodeur, who is expected to start, is 4-0-1 in his last five against the Blue Jackets with a 1.36 goals-against average and two shutouts, though he hasn’t faced them since Nov. 23, 2011.
McElhinney won his lone start against New Jersey, stopping 33 shots in a 3-1 win with Ottawa on March 17, 2011.
Brandon Dubinsky, who has just one point in his last seven games, has a goal and an assist in each of his last two against the Devils.
New Jersey has five power-play goals on 16 chances over its last six road contests.
The Blue Jackets have won three in a row at home after dropping six of the previous seven there.