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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, October 20th (All times Eastern)

Vancouver Canucks (5-3-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (2-5-0), 6 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - So much for avoiding another slow start to the season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets try to snap a four-game losing streak on Sunday evening when they play host to the Vancouver Canucks.

The Blue Jackets missed out on just their second ever trip to the playoffs last season after losing a tiebreaker to the Minnesota Wild for the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Columbus put itself in position to challenge for a spot by finishing the lockout-shortened campaign 19-5-3, but that came following a 5-12-4 start.

Columbus won just twice through its first eight games last season, but began the 2013-14 campaign by winning two of its first three. However, the Blue Jackets have since dropped four straight, held to a single goal in three of those games.

Artem Anisimov put the Blue Jackets on the board in the third period of last night's meeting with the Washington Capitals, but it was the only goal the club managed in a 4-1 setback.

Sergei Bobrovsky was tagged for all four goals on 39 shots in the loss.

"I think we started to go after them later in the game," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards. "But we got what we deserved because we were lazy in the first two periods."

Richards' squad is trying to avoid posting its longest losing streak since a 0-5-1 slump from Jan. 19-Feb. 1, 2012 and opens a four-game homestand today after going winless on a three-game swing.

Bobrovsky has been in net for all seven games this season, including back-to- back outings on Oct. 4 and 5 to begin the season. It is unknown if backup Curtis McElhinney will make his season debut tonight in place of Bobrovsky.

Bobrovsky has had some tough luck in his career versus the Canucks, going 1-0-2 against them in four games (3 starts) despite a 1.05 goals against average. He has recorded one shutout against them, a 1-0 shootout loss on March 26.

McElhinney is 1-0-1 with a 2.87 GAA in five meetings with Vancouver, including three starts.

The Canucks won the first two contests of their season-high, seven-game road trip before dropping a 4-3 shootout decision on Saturday to Pittsburgh. Roberto Luongo made 25 saves and gave up the only tally of the shootout.

Zack Kassian, Brad Richardson and Alexander Edler scored for the Canucks, while Kevin Bieksa assisted on all three goals. Michael Santorelli, Edler and Ryan Kesler all came up empty in the shootout, however.

Kassian's goal with 7:10 left in the third period gave the Canucks a one-goal lead, but the Penguins answered with a game-tying tally just 22 seconds later.

"For half the game, I thought we played great," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "The second half, I thought we gave up a little too many scoring chances. They came out on 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s a few times and (Luongo) made some big saves for us.

Luongo made his sixth consecutive start and is 10-5-5 with a 2.11 GAA and four shutouts in 20 career meetings with the Blue Jackets. Head coach John Tortorella could opt to rest the 34-year-old tonight and give rookie backup Eddie Lack his second career start.

Lack made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, a 32-save win over Calgary.

The Canucks won two of three over the Blue Jackets last season, with all three games going past regulation. Vancouver has won 12 of the last 14 meetings overall and six of its last eight in Columbus.

10/20 10:26:45 ET

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MIN 84
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