Mon, 17 Feb 2020

Surging Blue Jackets ready to host Devils

Field Level Media
18 Jan 2020, 10:05 GMT+10

The Columbus Blue Jackets will go for their fourth straight win when they host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.

The Blue Jackets improved to 13-2-4 in their last 19 games with a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night. Columbus has points in 17 of the last 19 games and 30 points since Dec. 9, most in the NHL during that span.

Columbus didn't play one of its best games against the Hurricanes and surrendered leads of 1-0 and 2-1. Nick Foligno scored his first goal since Nov. 29 with 1:41 remaining and the Blue Jackets won despite being outshot 34-18.

"I think we're confident, we're quietly confident," Foligno said. "We put together a good string of games, and tonight was probably our ugliest one in a while, but there's still things to take away from it."

In addition to Foligno regaining his scoring touch, Cam Atkinson returned from an injury and had a goal and an assist in his first game since Dec. 19.

Goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 32 saves to win his seventh game in nine starts, though his two-game shutout streak came to a close. His scoreless streak was snapped at 166:29, the third-longest in Blue Jackets history.

"I thought we played a better third period," coach John Tortorella said. "Elvis gives us a chance, and I'm certainly not going to apologize for the win. We've had a few go the other way where we've played really well and lost, so we'll just go and be ready for our next game."

Emil Bemstrom also scored for Columbus and has two goals and an assist in his last three games.

After a couple of impressive wins against Washington and Tampa Bay, the Devils are scuffling again. They dropped a 7-4 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday and then watched the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin (hat trick) get revenge with a 5-2 win on Thursday.

"I thought we played on our heels a little bit," coach Alain Nasreddine said. "We knew they'd come out because of last game and they're a good team. ... A little bit too much respect maybe, playing on our heels and waiting to see what was going to happen."

Wayne Simmonds and Blake Coleman scored for New Jersey, which is 2-4-1 in its past seven games. Louis Domingue made 13 saves on 15 shots in the first period then did not play because of a lower-body injury. Cory Schneider made 20 saves in relief for the Devils.

Coleman pulled the Devils within 3-2 with a beautiful short-handed effort that gave him four goals in his past two games.

"He's got great speed," Devils forward Travis Zajac said of Coleman. "He's anticipating plays really well right now and just using his speed. Obviously scoring some goals. He's got confidence on his breakaway and his chances that he's burying."

New Jersey went 0-for-4 on the power play and is 1-for-15 over their past five games.

The Devils got some good news on Friday as they prepared for their final game before their bye week. Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood (upper-body injury) joined the team in Columbus. Forward Kevin Rooney, who missed Thursday's game because of illness, was also on the ice Friday, as was Domingue.

The Blue Jackets won the first meeting of the season between the teams, 5-1 on Dec. 21.

--Field Level Media

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