Columbus
Blue Jackets
35-43-4
St. Louis
Blues
21-46-15

20 SOG
30 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
CBJ
STL
game preview

Blue Jackets-Blues Preview

Friday, 03.31.2006 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Blue Jackets-Blues Preview
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. St. Louis Blues

GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (29-40-3) at St. Louis Blues (20-38-13).

TIME: Friday, 8 p.m. EST.

The Columbus Blue Jackets look to break the single-season franchise record for wins when they visit the St. Louis Blues, a team desperately searching for a victory.

The Blue Jackets beat San Jose 4-1 on Tuesday night to tie the 2002-03 team for most victories with 29. Columbus has 10 games remaining to break the record.

"It's nice, but we should have 40 or 45 wins," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. "We're a better team than 29 wins. We're going to battle for a playoff spot soon."

Columbus has won three straight following a five-game losing streak. The three victories - against Calgary, Detroit and San Jose - came against teams either in the playoffs or battling for spots.

"It's a lot easier to come, show up and go through the motions but we're playing for something," Columbus forward Rick Nash said. "It was a slow start this year but we're trying to build a lot of momentum right now and gain some chemistry for the start of next season."

Nash had two goals against the Sharks and has five goals and four assists in his last seven games.

St. Louis lost its eighth in a row Wednesday night, 3-2 in overtime to Chicago. It's the third lengthy losing streak this season for the Blues, who have also had skids of 11 and seven games.

The Blues had a season-high 46 shots on goal against the Blackhawks, but again struggled to score. St. Louis is last in the NHL with 181 goals.

"We definitely got a lot of chances, didn't take advantage, and the bottom line is we lost the game again," St. Louis' Keith Tkachuk said. "We did a lot of great things tonight, we had 46 shots.

"We're starting to go to the net a lot more, and when you create that many chances you deserve to get more goals."

St. Louis' last win came against Columbus on March 13, when the Blues scored two power-play goals and won 3-2 in overtime. Since then, St. Louis is 5-for-53 (9.4 percent) with the man advantage, including 0-for-14 in the last two games.

"The first two periods we had a lot of chances in and around the net," St. Louis center Trent Whitfield said after Wednesday's defeat. "The puck was sitting right there in the slot, but we weren't able to get it in the back of the net."

The Blues have lost four in a row at home.

STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 61 points, 3rd place, 44 PB, Central Division. Blues - 53 points, 5th place, 52 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nikolai Zherdev, 26 goals; David Vyborny, 36 assists and 53 points; Jody Shelley, 140 PIM. Blues - Scott Young, 17 goals and 46 points; Petr Cajanek, 30 assists; Barret Jackman, 156 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.2 percent (57 for 402), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (376 for 463), 21st. Blues - Power play: 15.1 percent (69 for 458), 26th. Penalty killing: 82.0 percent (338 for 412), 17th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Pascal Leclaire (8-13-3, 3.42 GAA); Marc Denis (18-24-0, 1 SO, 3.26). Blues - Patrick Lalime (4-16-8, 3.66); Reinhard Divis (0-4-0, 5.26).

SEASON SERIES: 3-3.

LAST MEETING: March 13; Blues 3-2, OT. At St. Louis, Christian Backman scored for the Blues in overtime and Lalime made 14 saves in relief of the injured Curtis Sanford for his first win since Dec. 1.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 10-23-3 on the road; Blues - 11-18-6 at home.

2005-2006 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 13 '06STL 1 at CBJ 4M. Hartigan
Mar 31 '06CBJ 4 at STL 2R. Nash
Mar 13 '06CBJ 2 at STL 3 - OTC. Backman
Jan 20 '06STL 3 at CBJ 4 - SOR. Nash
Dec 01 '05CBJ 1 at STL 4D. Wideman
Nov 26 '05CBJ 4 at STL 3A. Johnson
Nov 16 '05STL 2 at CBJ 0L. Stempniak
Nov 09 '05STL 1 at CBJ 3D. Vyborny
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
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