NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, December 6th
(All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (17-8-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (11-14-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without their top
goaltender for at least the next month, but on Friday the club will try to
record consecutive wins for the first time since October when it hosts the
Minnesota Wild at Nationwide Arena.
On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets announced that reigning Vezina Trophy winner
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to be sidelined 4-to-5 weeks with a groin strain,
leaving journeyman Curtis McElhinney as the de facto No. 1 in Bobrovsky's
Bobrovsky sustained the injury while making a save during the third period of
Tuesday's 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Blue Jackets
officially placed him on injured reserve in order to clear a roster spot and
then recalled goalie Mike McKenna from Springfield of the AHL to back up
"I'm sort of always the optimist in these situations," Blue Jackets general
manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "As unfortunate as it is to go through injuries
and injuries to those guys with more of a bigger role, it's an opportunity for
someone else. Curtis has patiently waited for every opportunity he's gotten so
far ... he's worked his butt off. He's played really well for us, and now he
has a great chance with the unfortunate thing that's happened to Sergei."
The 25-year-old Bobrovsky was named the NHL's top goaltender last season after
recording a 21-11-6 record with a 2.00 goals against average, .932 save
percentage and four shutouts over 38 games. However, Bobrovsky's numbers have
dropped off some this season, having posted a 2.72 GAA and a .909 save
percentage while going 10-11-2 in 23 outings.
McElhinney will get the start tonight. He has a 1-1-1 record and a 2.95 GAA in
four career outings against the Wild.
Nick Foligno scored with a between-the-legs move to lead the Blue Jackets to
Tuesday's 1-0 win against visiting Tampa Bay. Foligno drew his stick and the
puck backward between his legs and flipped a forehand past Ben Bishop's right
pad 4:30 into the second period.
Bobrovsky stopped all 18 shots he faced before exiting the game. McElhinney
added eight stops to combine on the shutout.
Columbus is 6-7-1 as the host this season and will shoot for its third
straight home win tonight when it closes out a two-game stay at Nationwide
The Wild enter Friday having won two straight on the heels of a season-worst
four-game losing streak.
Both recent victories came at home, where the Wild have recorded 12 of their
17 wins this season. Minnesota ended the slide with Monday's 2-0 win over
Philadelphia and then notched a 4-3 regulation decision against Chicago on
The Wild held off the defending Stanley Cup champions and current leaders of
the Central Division in Thursday's battle at Xcel Energy Center. Minnesota
went down 3-2 over six minutes in the third period after coughing up an early
2-0 lead, but Jonas Brodin scored the tying goal for the Wild and Marco
Scandella won it late in regulation.
Matt Cooke and Zach Parise also lit the lamp and Jared Spurgeon added two
assists for the Wild. Josh Harding stopped 16 shots for the win.
"When you start the game that way and play the game that way, it's easier to
battle through (the Chicago comeback)," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said.
The Wild are playing four of five and eight of their next 10 games on the
road, where they are just 5-5-3 this season. Minnesota will host San Jose on
Sunday before embarking on a three-game road trip that begins Wednesday in
The Blue Jackets have taken three of five and five of the last nine meetings
in this series. However, the Wild have claimed three of the past five
encounters in Ohio, going 3-1-1 at Nationwide Arena during that stretch.
12/06 10:50:53 ET