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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, January 2nd (All times eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (9-21-4-3) at Tampa Bay Lightning (15-13-6-1), 3 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets hope a new coach will spark a turnaround today when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

President and General Manager Doug MacLean stepped down as bench boss on Thursday, and assistant Gerard Gallant assumed coaching duties. Gallant has been on the Blue Jackets' staff since their inception in 2000.

"I have great confidence that working with our coaching staff, he will make this transition smoothly as we head into the second half of the season," MacLean said of the 40-year-old Gallant.

Columbus has lost its last three games and is 1-9-1-2 in the last 13 overall. The team enters this evening's match last in the league's overall standings with 25 points. MacLean's last game at the helm was Wednesday's 1-0 loss to visiting San Jose. The Sharks' Alyn McCauley scored the game's only goal with 4:59 remaining in the third period.

Goalie Marc Denis stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced, as the Blue Jackets fell to 5-12 in one-goal games this season.

Columbus, 1-11-1-2 on the road, begins a seven-game trip tonight and will visit Florida on Saturday.

Tampa Bay, which sits six points behind first-place Atlanta in the Southeast Division race, is 1-3-2 in the last six games, and 2-7-2 in the last 11 overall. On Wednesday they skated to a 2-2 tie with Florida in the third portion of a five-game homestand.

Roberto Luongo made 40 saves for Florida and Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin countered with 30 in the deadlock. Brad Richards and Cory Stillman netted power-play goals for the Bolts, who are 1-5-2 in their last eight home contests.

Stillman is tied for the team lead with 12 tallies and is tied for fifth in the NHL with eight power-play goals.

The Lightning, 9-6-3-1 at home for the season, will host Philadelphia on Saturday.

Tampa Bay defeated Columbus, 1-0, at Nationwide Arena on October 23 and is 3-0-1 in the last four meetings. The Blue Jackets have lost in both of their previous trips to Tampa.

01/02 10:29:20 ET


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