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GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (26-36-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (20-35-9).
TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled on the road all season, but that hasn't been the case when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks.
Columbus looks for its third win in Chicago this season and fourth straight overall at the United Center when the Central Division rivals meet.
The Blue Jackets have just nine victories in 34 road games this season, but two have come against the Blackhawks. They've won three straight and four of their last five in Chicago after not registering a victory there in their first seven visits.
Columbus enters this contest with five losses in its last six road games, while Chicago has dropped four in a row at home.
The Blue Jackets had a two-game winning streak snapped with a 3-2 overtime loss at St. Louis on Monday as Blues defenseman Christian Backman scored 3:49 into the extra session.
Columbus thought it had won the game when forward Trevor Letowski hit the goal post at the 3:20 mark. The red light went on, but play continued and the Blues went on a rush that led to Backman's goal.
It took nearly five minutes before a review of the replay determined that Letowski's shot did hit the post.
"Once it took that long, I thought it might be a goal," said Columbus coach Gerard Gallant, whose team is 21-18-3 after a 5-18-0 start. "I thought it might be kind of funny where one team celebrates and then they're going to turn it over and we're going to win the hockey game."
The Blackhawks, who have lost three straight and 11 of their last 14, can't be happy to see Columbus goaltender Marc Denis paying a visit to the United Center.
In three of the four meetings this season with Columbus, Chicago has put 45, 43 and 43 shots on goal against Denis. The Blackhawks have outshot the Blue Jackets in all four games, but are 1-3-0 against them and Denis has a 2.24 goals-against average and .945 save percentage.
Chicago is coming off two losses in a home-and-home series with Detroit. The Blackhawks managed to score seven goals against a Red Wings team that is one of the stingiest in the league, but Chicago lost 6-4 Saturday and 5-3 on Sunday.
Nikolai Khabibulin started both games for Chicago, but was pulled in each contest. He allowed three goals on five shots Sunday.
"That's one of the worst things, to be pulled out of two games in a row," Khabibulin said. "I don't want to make any excuses. The last two games I've played pretty bad."
Khabibulin, who returned a week ago after missing 13 games with a knee injury, has allowed 10 goals on 49 shots and has a 6.22 GAA in three appearances since coming back.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 55 points, 3rd place, 38 PB, Central Division. Blackhawks - 49 points, 5th place, 44 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nikolai Zherdev, 24 goals; David Vyborny, 30 assists; Zherdev and Vyborny, 46 points; Jody Shelley, 127 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 20 goals; Kyle Calder, 28 assists and 42 points; Matthew Barnaby, 157 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.2 percent (52 for 367), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.8 percent (346 for 428), 23rd. Blackhawks - Power play: 12.6 percent (42 for 332), 30th. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (380 for 453), 9th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (16-22-0, 1 SO, 3.34 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (7-11-3, 3.40). Blackhawks - Khabibulin (12-20-3, 3.46); Craig Anderson (5-10-3, 1, 3.38).
SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: March 7; Blackhawks, 3-1. At Columbus, Ohio, Patrick Sharp broke a 1-1 tie when he scored on a breakaway at 6:01 of the final period as Chicago ended a four-game losing streak in the series.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 9-22-3 on the road; Blackhawks - 11-16-4 at home.
|Apr 16 '06||CBJ 3 at CHI 4||K. Calder|
|Apr 15 '06||CHI 2 at CBJ 5||D. Vyborny|
|Apr 01 '06||CHI 2 at CBJ 5||J. Balastik|
|Mar 15 '06||CBJ 2 at CHI 3||K. Calder|
|Mar 07 '06||CHI 3 at CBJ 1||P. Sharp|
|Dec 30 '05||CBJ 3 at CHI 2||R. Nash|
|Dec 26 '05||CHI 3 at CBJ 4 - OT||J. Balastik|
|Oct 09 '05||CBJ 3 at CHI 2||J. Shelley|