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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Monday, December 16th (All times Eastern)

Winnipeg Jets (14-15-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (14-15-4), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets aim to bounce back from a recent loss with a seventh straight victory over the Winnipeg franchise as they host the Jets on Monday night.

The Blue Jackets have not lost in this series since Dec. 9, 2005 against the Atlanta Thrashers. They have outscored the Jets/Thrashers franchise by a 15-5 margin over this current win streak with three shutout victories.

It has been even longer since the Jets have won in Columbus. Their last road win in this series came on March 22, 2003, losing four straight since.

The Blue Jackets have earned a point in five of their last six games, going 4-1-1. They failed to pick up a third straight victory on Saturday, falling 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues in overtime.

It was a discouraging loss though as Columbus got first-period goals from Artem Anisimov, Fedor Tyutin and Ryan Johansen before the Blues rallied back. St. Louis then got the winner 22 seconds into overtime after David Backes stole the puck, shook a defender and beat Mike McKenna top shelf.

"As soon as he made a move with his backhand, I went hard to the other side and the puck went back across, and I'm dead in the water," said McKenna, who made 27 saves. "It's frustrating. We were right there and definitely played well enough to win."

Columbus had been 36-0-0 when leading after two periods dating back to last season.

Though Curtis McElhinney is close to returning from a lower-body injury suffered last Thursday, McKenna will get his second straight start tonight. He is 0-2-0 with a 3.86 goals against average in two previous meetings with the Jets franchise.

Forward Marian Gaborik is also near a return to the Blue Jackets' lineup, but is expected to miss his 16th straight game due to a sprained knee.

The Jets hit the road following an 0-2-1 homestand. They completed the stay at home with a 6-4 setback to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

Winnipeg three times rallied from a goal down, getting a goal from Matt Halischuk and two by Blake Wheeler through the first 35 minutes of the game. However, the Stars scored twice on a five-minute power play received after Anthony Peluso's major for boarding Stars defenseman with 4:32 left in the second period.

Olli Jokinen scored with 1:41 left in the game and Al Montoya stopped seven of eight shots faced in the third frame after relieving Ondrej Pavelec, who yielded five goals on 24 shots through the first two periods.

"We didn't accomplish what we set out to in this homestand," Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel admitted. "For me in this game, we took a step back because I haven't seen us play this way in quite some time."

Evander Kane missed his sixth straight game due to a lower-body injury, while Halischuk exited early due to a bruised right arm. He had surgery to repair a fractured forearm and is out indefinitely.

Also, Peluso was hit with a three-game suspension on Sunday for his hit versus the Stars.

Winnipeg will play two straight and four of its next five on the road.

Pavelec is winless in his career versus the Blue Jackets, going 0-4-0 with a 2.29 GAA.

12/16 10:37:50 ET

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