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Back on Track – Mid week reports

The Columbus Blue Jackets played their third straight overtime game last Wednesday night when they fell to the Sharks in a shootout.

The San Jose loss came in the middle of what has turned into a five game point streak for Columbus, their longest of the season.

This is the midweek report.

Last Three:

San Jose:
After a hard fought overtime win over Washington, the Blue Jackets returned home to face Dany Heatley and the San Jose Sharks.

The game marked the first game back for Columbus defenseman Jan Hejda, after missing three weeks with a sprained knee. However, Columbus was without regulars Derick Brassard, Mike Commodore, and Kristian Huselius, who were all out with minor injuries.

As usual, the Blue Jackets allowed the first goal of the game, a wrist shot from Joe Thornton, his fourth of the year.

But with less than one minute remaining in period number one, Jason Chimera scored his fourth goal of the year and tied the game at one.

In the second, the two teams traded power play goals from Dany Heatley and Rick Nash, both their 10th of the year.

In the shootout, Nikita Filatov, Anton Stralman, and Rick Nash were all denied by San Jose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, while San Jose defenseman Dan Boyle put one past Columbus goaltender Steve Mason, handing the Sharks the 3-2 shootout victory.

Raffi Torres recorded his second two-goal performance in three games in the 4-3 win over Atlanta last Thursday night.

Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard both scored first period goals while Columbus goaltender Mathieu Garon made 32 of 35 saves for the win.

Torres, who now has eight goals on the season, scored only 12 during all of last year and recorded only one multi-goal game.

In all, Atlanta outshot Columbus 35-21.

After falling down 1-0, and being held scoreless through two periods, the Blue Jackets came out firing to start the third period.

Courtesy of Nikita Filatov, Jared Boll, and Rick Nash, Columbus scored three goals in the first 3:31 of the third period to take a commanding 3-1 lead.

Filatov scored his second goal of the year just 50 seconds into the period on a wrist shot assisted by Derek Dorsett and Derek MacKenzie.

Jared Boll added his first goal of the season just two minutes later on what may have been the goal of the night in the National Hockey League.

Seconds later, captain Rick Nash tallied his 11th goal of the campaign to reach the Jackets’ three goal total. Nash’s goal came unassisted.

The loss stretched Carolina’s winless streak to 12 games, the longest in franchise history.

Columbus goaltender Steve Mason made 20 of 22 saves, and also recorded an assist on the Boll goal.

Carolina goaltender Cam Ward left the game at the 7:35 mark of the first period after being cut by a skate. Ward was treated at a Columbus hospital and was not able to travel back with the team.

The Youth:

Columbus forwards Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek combined for a pair of goals and a pair of assists in the 4-3 win at Atlanta.

Nikita Filatov tallied his second goal of the year in the win over Carolina while Jared Boll scored his first.

Power Play Watch:

Columbus was 1-1 on the PP against the Sharks, 0-2 at the Thrashers, and 0-3 against the Hurricanes.

This brings the season total to 14-63, or about 22.2 percent, which is good enough for ninth in the NHL, a slight drop from where it was a week ago.

This is one area the Blue Jackets have seen vast improvement after ranking last in the NHL on the PP for much of last season.

The Kill:

The Blue Jackets killed off one of two penalties against San Jose, six of eight verses Atlanta, and five of five against Carolina.

With the new totals, The Blue Jacket rank 18th in the NHL on the kill, and the season total runs to 58-73, or 79.4 percent, similar to what it was a week ago.

Columbus continues to take too many penalties. In the game against Atlanta, the Blue Jackets took seven straight penalties, on which they allowed two goals that kept the Thrashers in the game.

It is hard on a penalty-killing unit when they are asked to kill that many penalties in one game.

Central Race:

The Blue Jackets and Blackhawks sit in a tie for first place atop the central division with 20 points apiece.

Detroit, with only 15 games played compared to 16 for every other team in the division, sits in second with 17 total points.

St. Louis and Nashville have 16, and 15 points, respectively.

Columbus continues to lead in goals per game average with 3.18. However, the Blue Jackets also have the worst goals against average in the division with an average of 3.37 goals allowed per game.

Injury Report:
According to the Blue Jackets’ official website:

Winger Fredrik Modin remains on the injured reserve with a knee injury and is expected to be out for four to six weeks.

Forward Kristian Huselius has missed the last three games with an upper body injury.

Andrew Murray also remains on the IR with shoulder issues.

Up Next:

Columbus face division foe Detroit at home on Wednesday night for the first time since the Red Wings swept Columbus out of last year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The game will be the 1,000th NHL game for Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock.

Detroit is 7-5-3 on the season and currently sits in third place in the central division.

On Friday night, the Blue Jackets will welcome Scott Niedermayer and the Anaheim Ducks into Nationwide Arena where they will face off for the second time of the year.

Columbus won the previous match 6-4 in Anaheim.

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