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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 27th (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (16-17-4) at New Jersey Devils (15-16-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will aim for their first three-game winning streak since October when they visit the New Jersey Devils for Friday's Metropolitan Division battle at Prudential Center.
The Blue Jackets won their last two games prior to the Christmas break, beating visiting Philadelphia last Saturday to split a home-and-home series before taking Monday's decision at Carolina. It marked the third two-game winning streak of the month for Columbus, which hasn't won three straight since Oct. 20-25.
Ryan Johansen and Jack Skille provided some late heroics for the Blue Jackets in their most recent win, as the pair scored 1:28 apart late in the third period to boost the Columbus to a 4-3 win over Hurricanes. Johansen tied the game with 4:02 left and Skille put the Blue Jackets in front at 17:26 of the third with a rising shot from the right circle that beat Justin Peters.
"We're that type of team that we don't give up," Skille said. "We have a lot of character in the room and everyone wants to win and finish games strong. That was the key to the third period."
Mike McKenna stood tall with 30 saves, including a stop on Jeff Skinner from in close in the final 30 seconds after the Hurricanes pulled Peters for the extra attacker.
Corey Tropp and Artem Anisimov also scored for the Blue Jackets, who are 7-9-2 as the road team this season. New Jersey, meanwhile, is just 7-5-4 as the host.
A victory tonight for Columbus would secure a win in the season series with New Jersey. The Blue Jackets won the first two of four scheduled meetings this season but Friday's encounter marks the first tilt in the Garden State, where the Devils are 4-0 with a tie in five all-time games against Columbus.
New Jersey lost its final tilt before the Christmas break, dropping a 5-2 decision Monday night in Chicago. Stephen Gionta and Michael Ryder tallied a goal apiece in the loss, while Cory Schneider allowed all five goals on 37 shots for the Devils, who had a four-game point streak (3-0-1) halted.
"That's a great team," New Jersey head coach Peter DeBoer said of Chicago. "They can make you look bad if you're not on your game, and we weren't on our game."
Devils forward Andrei Loktionov missed the last two games due to an illness, but he expects to play on Friday. He has three goals and four assists in 32 games this season.
12/27 10:40:36 ET
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