09 02 50 20
The Columbus Blue Jackets haven't had a winning road trip in almost 11 months.
The Blue Jackets have a chance to change that as they close out their five-game road swing prior to the All-Star break against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
Columbus (24-20-6) avoided a third straight loss with a 4-2 win at Dallas on Tuesday to improve to 2-2-0 on its current road swing. The victory also puts the Blue Jackets, who have won five of seven and are tied with Nashville for second in the Central Division, in position for their first winning road trip since going 2-1-0 from Feb. 27-Mar. 3.
"This is a big step, to win on the road against a good opponent," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
The Blue Jackets are 8-14-2 away from home and haven't won back-to-back road contests since winning 7-4 at Chicago on Oct. 23 and 4-1 at Los Angeles on Oct. 31. Columbus will play 17 of its final 32 games on the road.
Tuesday, rookie defenseman Kris Russell scored two goals - including the tie-breaker with 6:15 left in regulation - for his first career NHL goals.
"He's had so many scoring chances," Hitchcock said. "It's a big relief. He puts so much pressure on himself to contribute offensively."
Andrew Murray scored in his first game since missing six with a concussion, Rick Nash added an empty-netter and Nikolai Zherdev had three assists for Columbus, which doubled its goal total from its previous two contests.
Nash and Zherdev have combined for five goals against Chicago this season. Nash had a goal and an assist in Columbus' 4-2 home win over Chicago on Nov. 14 in the teams' most recent meeting.
The Blue Jackets lead 2-1-0 in the season series.
Pascal Leclaire made 31 saves for his eighth win in his last 11 starts. He was in net for the team's most recent win over Chicago in his only start versus the Blackhawks this season.
Chicago (23-22-4) returns home after falling 3-2 at San Jose on Tuesday to snap a four-game winning streak and finish 2-1-0 on a western road swing.
Rookies Jack Skille and Adam Burish - both members of Wisconsin's 2006 national championship team - scored for Chicago, while fellow Badger Jacob Dowell added an assist for the Blackhawks, whose previous two games were decided in a shootout.
It was Burish's first goal in 58 NHL games.
"Too long," Burish said. "I wish my parents could have seen it."
Patrick Lalime made 20 saves Tuesday, but lost for the first time since starting Chicago's last five games. He is 4-1-0 with a 1.53 goals-against average during that span.
Lalime, who continues to play in place of the struggling Nikolai Khabibulin, is 1-1-0 versus Columbus this season and 6-3-0 with a 2.60 GAA against the Blue Jackets lifetime.