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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 12th (All times Eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (13-15-3) at New York Rangers (15-16-1), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Rick Nash isn't focused on facing his former team for the first time, not with his New York Rangers in the midst of a four-game losing streak at home.

Still, there will be plenty of focus on Nash's first meeting with his former Columbus club on Thursday night when the Blue Jackets pay a visit to Madison Square Garden.

The first overall pick by the Blue Jackets in the 2002 draft, Nash is the franchise's all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played. However, he made the playoffs just once during his nine seasons with the club and finally asked for a trade prior to the 2012-13 season.

Columbus was able to accommodate him by shipping the 29-year-old to the Rangers on July 23, 2012 for centers Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky, defenseman Tim Erixon and a 2013 first-round draft pick, but the clubs did not play each other during the following season due to the lockout-influenced schedule.

The Rangers visited the Blue Jackets on Nov. 7 and claimed a 4-2 victory, but Nash missed the game due to a concussion that kept him on the shelf for 17 games. New York's next trip to Columbus isn't until March 21.

Nash has six goals and five assists in 15 games this season and picked up his 600th NHL point with a goal in Tuesday's 4-1 setback to the Nashville Predators. The defeat dropped the Rangers to 0-2-1 on their current nine-game homestand -- the longest in franchise history -- and the club is on its first four-game slide at home since Feb. 20-March 3, 2011.

"It's just a really tough stretch for us right now where it's hard to get points," said New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who made 22 saves on 25 shots faced. "You just have to work through it, stick together and like I said, be positive. It's definitely a test for all of us."

Already without defenseman Marc Staal due to a concussion, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan exited Tuesday's loss in the first period with a sprained knee that is expected to sideline him for at least a month.

Those two injuries, combined with the current losing streak, has Nash more focused on righting the ship than facing the Blue Jackets.

"I think it's overshadowed by what we're worried about right now," Nash told the Columbus Dispatch. "We're worried about winning games and getting two points and kind of ending this losing streak.

"It'll be fun, but I think I only know one guy, maybe two or three guys that I played with. It's a totally different team. More importantly we have to win games here. We're worried about the Rangers and not other things."

Tuesday's game will also mark a return to Madison Square Garden for the players dealt to the Blue Jackets for Nash: Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Tim Erixon, though Erixon is expected to be a healthy scratch.

Dubinsky was a second-round pick by New York in 2004 and spent five full seasons with the Rangers prior to the trade, twice reaching the 20-goal mark.

Anisimov, a 2006 second-round selection by the Blueshirts, spent three seasons in New York.

"I'm going to go in there fired up (Thursday) night, trying to show (Rangers) management that they made the wrong decision trading me, and let them know, try to make them feel, like they wish they still had me," Dubinsky told the Columbus Dispatch.

Another Blue Jacket who will miss a return to MSG will be Marian Gaborik, dealt by the Rangers to Columbus on April 3 of last season for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a draft pick. Gaborik had an assist in the November meeting, but is currently out with a sprained knee.

Columbus is also playing without goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and defenseman James Wisniewski, while offseason pickup Nathan Horton has still yet to make his debut with the club due to shoulder surgery.

Still, the Blue Jackets found a way to win on Tuesday, rallying for a 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils.

Columbus won for the third time in its past four games overall despite giving up a goal just 32 seconds into the game and trailing 3-1 early in the second period. Cam Atkinson had two goals and two assists, Dubinsky notched four points off a goal and three helpers and Nick Foligno was credited with the winner when Ryan Johansen's pass went off his skate with 91 seconds left in regulation.

"I don't think we had a great start. I don't think our legs were moving," said Dubinsky. "I think we were a little bit tired tonight and I think it showed. But we found a way to get a big win against a division rival.

"We definitely gritted it out."

Johansen has two goals and six assists over a six-game point streak.

With Bobrovsky sidelined with a strained groin, McElhinney is likely to make his first career start versus the Rangers tonight.

Lundqvist is 3-2-0 with a 2.62 goals against average in five previous meetings with Columbus.

The Rangers have won four of their past five encounters with the Jackets, taking two straight at home.

12/12 10:40:36 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
7:00pm Tonight
NCCU
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
SYR
 
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
Final
CLE 108
OKC 98
Final
NOP 109
DAL 106
Final
ORL 99
IND 106
Final
PHO 100
LAC 120
Final
ATL 112
MIN 100
Final
TOR 114
DET 110
Final
SAN 101
MIL 95
Final
GSW 114
BOS 111
Final
DEN 115
WAS 117
Final
LAL 87
HOU 99
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
ORL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
PHI
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
BOS
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
DEN
 
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
WICHS 74
DRAK 40
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
MAR 73
FAIR 67
 
Final
HART 61
MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
BING 54
USB 61
 
Final
MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
BUT 77
SHU 57
Final
SALA 55
YALE 72
 
Final
PITT 68
LOU 80
Final
ILLST 53
NIOWA 54
Final
GTDNS 69
UMBC 55
 
Final
IONA 87
NIAG 64
 
Final
TENST 55
BEL 63
 
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
Final
VILL 71
CREI 50
Final
MD 68
NW 67
Final
UTAH 77
WASH 56
7:00pm Tonight
AMER
ARMY
 
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OU
CLST
 
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NCCU
DELST
 
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PBY
HIGH
 
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UNC
SYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
DET
WRST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NCAT
COPST
 
7:30pm Tonight
SCST
HAMP
 
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COOK
HOW
 
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NWST
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NO
CARK
 
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CAMP
GWEBB
 
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FAM
MDES
 
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INCWORD
MCNST
 
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SAV
NORST
 
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ABCHRIST
SHSU
 
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LAM
STEPH
 
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SELA
TAMCC
 
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VALPO
UWMIL
 
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ALAAM
ALCOR
 
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ALAST
SOUTH
 
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ARKPB
PVU
 
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ISU
TEX
 
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MVSU
TXSOU
 
Final
TEAMFOLI 12
TEAMTOEWS 17
Final
CARTER 28
IRVIN 32