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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, December 31st (All times Eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (17-18-4) at Colorado Avalanche (23-11-4), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Colorado Avalanche aim to avoid a season-high fifth straight defeat on Tuesday night as they continue their lengthy homestand in a matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Avs logged just an 0-1-2 record on a three-game swing through Los Angeles, San Jose and Chicago -- where they faced three of the top teams in the Western Conference -- and then began a seven-game homestand on Sunday with a 2-1 overtime setback to the Winnipeg Jets.

Blake Wheeler scored the overtime winner for the Jets with 1.7 seconds on the clock, redirecting the puck between the pads of Semyon Varlamov.

Varlamov made 35 saves and didn't allow his first goal until 11:42 into the third period. Colorado rookie Nathan MacKinnon answered for his club just 29 seconds later to tie the game.

"We have to be able to hang on there (at the end)," said MacKinnon. "We have to generate more shots and be a little more simple-minded, especially in physical games like that."

MacKinnon, the top overall pick of the 2013 draft, scored his ninth goal of the season and logged his 22nd point. He could see an increased role after forward P.A. Parenteau suffered a knee injury in Sunday's loss that is expected to keep him out for six weeks.

The 30-year-old Parenteau has nine goals and 15 assists in 38 games this season.

The Blue Jackets will try to rebound tonight after having a season high-tying three-game win streak snapped with Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who got three goals and two assists from forward James Neal.

Brandon Dubinsky, Corey Tropp and Nikita Nikitin lit the lamp for the Blue Jackets, and Curtis McElhinney made 25 saves, but Pittsburgh went 3-for-6 on the power play.

"They scored on 50 percent of their power play and that just can't happen," said Dubinsky.

Columbus will open a four-game road trip tonight and could get a pair of key players back on the swing.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been out since suffering a groin injury on Dec. 3 and practiced on Monday. The 25-year-old reigning Vezina Trophy winner is 10-11-2 with a 2.72 goals against average and .909 save percentage in 23 starts this season.

Also, forward Nathan Horton continues to practice and is closing in on his season debut with Columbus. He signed a seven-year, $37.1 million deal with the Blue Jackets this offseason, but has yet to play due to shoulder surgery he underwent not long after signing with Columbus.

Though Bobrovsky could be back soon, McElhinney is likely to start tonight and is 2-1-0 with a 2.67 GAA in three career starts versus the Avalanche.

Columbus has won four of its last five versus the Avalanche and has claimed three of its past four in Colorado.

Varlamov will start for the Avs and is 3-2-1 with a 1.66 GAA and two shutouts lifetime versus the Jackets.

12/31 10:57:28 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
4th
BRK 89
CHA 113
 
2nd
DUKE 87
WAKE 49
 
Final
LOS 4
CWS 6
 
Final
CLE 4
CIN 2
 
Final
TEX 2
KAN 13
 
Final
SFG 2
OAK 9
 
Final
SEA 4
SDP 3
 
Final
MIL 8
WMIL 0
 
Final
COL 3
ARI 6
 
Final
MIN 3
UMIN 1
 
Final
IND 105
NYK 82
 
Final
ORL 100
PHO 105
 
4th
BRK 89
CHA 113
 
4th
TOR 106
CLE 113
 
4th
BOS 83
UTA 82
 
4th
MIN 65
DEN 77
 
3rd
NOP 65
DET 63
 
3rd
MIA 70
LAL 62
 
4th
HOU 79
MEM 87
 
3rd
OKC 74
PHI 88
 
Half
SAN 54
SAC 38
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
Final
UNCA 80
LIB 70
 
Final
PSU 67
OSU 77
 
Final
USB 62
BING 57
 
Final
FORD 66
DUQ 81
 
Final
GMAS 51
GWU 67
 
Final
UNH 54
HART 52
 
Final
STJOE 55
LAS 50
 
Final
Terriers 79
LIU 70
 
Final
GTDNS 83
MAINE 66
 
Final
LOU 59
ND 71
 
Final
SHU 66
PROV 79
 
Final
BRY 91
SHU 85
 
Final
MORE 79
SEMIZ 74
 
Final
MNTER 58
RFLSH 73
 
Final
LSU 63
TENN 78
 
Final
SFLA 74
UCF 45
 
Final
VERM 66
UMBC 39
 
Final
RMU 91
WAGN 68
 
Final
UMASS 53
RICH 56
 
2nd
TULA 52
HOU 52
 
2nd
YALE 71
HOW 61
 
2nd
PITT 53
MIAMI 57
 
2nd
TXPA 46
NMST 59
 
2nd
MSU 47
PURD 42
 
2nd
STLU 46
BONA 61
 
2nd
DUKE 87
WAKE 49
 
1st
TULSA 16
CIN 25
 
Half
VANDY 32
MSST 36
 
1st
OKST 34
TCU 28
 
1st
UCLA 39
USC 23
 
Half
WYO 40
UTST 30
 
1st
MARQ 18
STJ 19
 
1st
EILL 13
SIUE 17
 
10:00pm Tonight
FRES
AFA
10:00pm Tonight
SJST
BSU
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
COLST
10:00pm Tonight
ILL
NEB
11:00pm Tonight
ORST
OREG
11:00pm Tonight
UNLV
SDST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
UCSB
 
3rd
WIN 0
OTT 3
 
2nd Intermission
DET 1
NYR 1
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
MON
10:00pm Tonight
COL
PIT