Avalanche close homestand vs. struggling Jackets
BLUE JACKETS (14-14-7) at AVALANCHE (19-11-6)
Columbus 2-5-3; Colorado 5-3-2
This is the second of four meetings. On Dec. 5, Wojtek Wolski scored a goal and an assist to lead the Avalanche to victory. Milan Hejduk and Chris Stewart also scored for Colorado, and goaltender Peter Budaj had 29 saves and an assist. Jason Chimera had a goal and an assist and Jakub Voracek
also scored for the Blue Jackets. Chimera thought he scored a tying goal with 13.7 seconds in the third period, jamming in the puck at the left post during a scrum. The net appeared to come up -- with the puck sliding in underneath -- but not off the moorings. The play was initially ruled a goal but later disallowed.
After opening the season at 12-6-2, the Blue Jackets are on a 2-8-5 slide. "We are wondering what is going to drop next," coach Ken Hitchcock told the Columbus Dispatch.
This is the first game of a four-game road trip. On Thursday, Columbus had a 2-1 shootout loss at home against Phoenix. Captain Rick Nash
scored the only goal for the Blue Jackets.
"We had a slow start -- the first 10 minutes were slow again, but after that I thought we played real well," Hitchcock said. "There are a lot of frustrated guys scoring-wise and guys that felt they could have put the hammer down today. It's what we're doing in transition that I'd like to see get better. If we can continue to build on the good minutes, we're going to be alright here."
"I think we played a great game (Thursday), one of our best games in a long time both offensively and defensively," goalie Mathieu Garon
said. "We created a lot of scoring chances and defensively, I don't think we gave them too much. It's frustrating to lose a game and I think we deserved and should've gotten two points, but I think it's a good game before we go on the road."
This is the final game in a five-game homestand for Colorado. The Avalanche have lost to Minnesota (1-0) and Washington (6-1) and scored wins against Tampa Bay (2-1 shootout) and Calgary (3-2). Colorado has had three days off since Tuesday's lopsided loss to the Capitals.
"Sometimes you want to forget about it and play right away," center Paul Stastny said. "But it's a long season, so it's good to have a day off to forget about it and refresh yourself mentally and physically.
"You have the night to think about it, everybody's mad about it, but when you get to practice two days later you have a whole new mindset and feel refreshed."
Hejduk, who has been sidelined the past two games after suffering a knee injury on Dec. 11 against Tampa Bay, returned to practice on Thursday. Hejduk, second on the club with 12 goals, said that he felt "pretty good" following practice and expects to return for Saturday's game. Another injured forward, Marek Svatos, skated on his own prior to practice to test his injured groin. Svatos, too, has missed the last two games.
For the Blue Jackets, R.J. Umberger
has 5 goal and 5 assists in his last 10 games and Nash has 3 goals and 2 assists in his last three games. … For the Avalanche, Wolski has 3 goals and 5 assists in his last six games and Stewart has 5 goals and 6 assists in his last nine games.
For the Blue Jackets, Derek Dorsett
(hand) and Rostislav Klesla
(groin) are on injured reserve. … For the Avalanche, Kyle Cumiskey (foot), Ruslan Salei (back) and David Jones (knee) are on injured reserve, and Hejduk (knee) and Svatos (groin) are day-to-day.
After being held pointless in back-to-back games for only the second time this season Dec. 5-9, Nash now has points in four of the past five games after scoring a goal this past Thursday against Phoenix to push his season totals to 18-17-35 in 35 games. He has registered at least a point in 23 of 35 games this season and has three goals the past five games after being held to one goal the previous 10 games.
"It was great to see the fans on their feet again. It would have been nice if we could have won the shootout and sent them home happy. We've been through tougher times than this with the Blue Jackets, and our fans have always stuck by our sides. We really need them right now." -- Nash in the Columbus Dispatch