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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, March 20th (All times Eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (35-27-6) at Montreal Canadiens (38-25-7), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Thomas Vanek broke out of his scoring slump with the Montreal Canadiens in a big way. The Habs hope their recently-acquired winger can stay hot on Thursday night in a home matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Canadiens acquired Vanek from the New York Islanders prior to the trade deadline in an effort to upgrade their offense for a playoff push. However, Vanek failed to score a goal in his first five games with Montreal, held to just a single assist.

The two-time 40-goal scorer finally broke out in Tuesday's big 6-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, netting a hat trick to spoil Patrick Roy's return to Montreal.

Roy made his first appearance in Montreal as head coach of the Colorado Avalanche and received a warm reception early in the game before Vanek stole the show.

"It was unbelievable," Vanek said of his three-goal night. "This place is electric."

Brandon Prust had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who have won three in a row. Travis Moen and Dale Weise also lit the lamp, while Carey Price made 25 saves.

Montreal's current win streak has it tied for second place with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division with 83 points. That is three ahead of the fourth-place Toronto Maple Leafs.

Columbus is also pushing for a playoff bid as it sits two points behind the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blue Jackets are also even with the Washington Capitals with 76 points, but have two games in hand to hold the current tiebreaker for the second wild card position in the Eastern Conference.

The Blue Jackets were riding a seven-game point streak going into Tuesday's home matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes and fell in defeat 3-1.

Columbus was nearly shut out before Boone Jenner lit the lamp with 50 seconds to go, deflecting Ryan Johansen's shot past Carolina goaltender Anton Khudobin. Still, the Blue Jackets fell to 6-1-1 in their last eight games.

Sergei Bobrovsky gave up three goals on 20 shots through two periods, while Curtis McElhinney did not face a shot in the third period during his relief appearance.

Columbus outshot Carolina 19-0 in the third period.

"We attempted 79 (shots) -- 47 were on net," said Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. "It seemed like we had some quality chances. We hit a couple posts. We had our opportunities."

The Blue Jackets activated forward Jared Boll from injured reserve on Wednesday. He had missed the past 45 games due to a torn ankle tendon suffered in late November.

The 27-year-old scored one goal and racked up 38 penalty minutes in 21 games before suffering the injury.

The Blue Jackets have lost both of their previous meetings with the Canadiens this season, including a 5-3 loss in Montreal on Oct. 17.

03/20 10:52:01 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
 
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
2nd
UF 48
UNC 61
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
BOS 102
CHI 109
Final
CHA 101
GSW 106
 
4th
TOR 79
DAL 84
 
Final
DET 88
MIL 104
 
Final
ATL 100
NOP 91
 
3rd
HOU 70
LAC 83
 
3rd
OKC 78
NYK 48
 
4th
IND 72
ORL 59
 
Half
SAN 61
SAC 51
 
2nd
DEN 46
PHO 32
 
10:00pm Tonight
POR
MEM
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MIN
Final
WMICH 21
NILL 31
Final
SMU 9
HOU 35
Final
IOWA 34
NEB 37
Final
SFLA 0
UCF 16
Final
MARS 66
WKENT 67
Final
KSU 27
AKR 24
Final
BGU 24
BST 41
Final
UMASS 21
BUF 41
Final
EMICH 16
TOL 52
Final
MIZZ 21
ARK 14
Final
SALABAMA 40
NAVY 42
Final
ARZ 42
ARST 35
Final
AFA 27
COLST 24
Final
UCLA 10
STAN 31
2nd
VT 10
UVA 13
 
2nd
TULSA 14
ECU 14
 
Final
NCCU 65
EILL 40
Final
KU 82
TENN 67
Final
TEXAM 87
NO 65
 
Final
NCAT 57
RAD 65
 
Final
GEOR 58
BUT 64
Final
BRO 81
PVU 71
Final
RIU 66
SCU 44
Final
NARZ 70
SOUTH 63
Final
DART 68
MAST 67
Final
WRST 59
FIU 61
Final
XAV 73
UTEP 77
Final
OSU 73
JMU 56
Final
TXSOU 71
LAM 59
 
Final
TAMCC 75
MVSU 66
 
Final
AKAN 51
MIZST 55
Final
BUCK 80
PSU 88
 
Final
PROV 72
YALE 66
Final
UGA 62
MINN 66
Final
WISC 69
OKLA 56
Final
Terriers 70
NORST 72
 
Final
PEAY 62
STEPH 83
Final
FSU 58
CSOU 47
 
Final
VALPO 66
DRAK 46
Final
CIN 69
MTST 51
Final
SDU 75
PRIN 65
Final
WASU 76
RICE 74
Final
CSFU 64
USCU 79
Final
GT 61
RIDE 54
 
Final
TXPA 79
ALAST 91
 
Final
NCSU 60
BSU 54
 
Final
TCU 57
BRAD 49
 
Final
WAKE 65
DELST 72
 
Final
HART 83
EMERSON 50
 
Final
STJ 66
GONZ 73
 
Final
CLEM 62
HIGH 59
 
Final
SYR 72
HC 48
 
Final
MD 61
MON 56
 
Final
JVST 74
SAV 71
 
Final
MIAMI 87
SALA 75
 
Final
RUTG 68
VANDY 65
 
Final
PETE 66
TENST 58
 
2nd
MARS 55
CLST 63
 
2nd
JST 52
HOF 80
 
2nd
INDST 49
MEM 56
 
2nd
UF 48
UNC 61
 
2nd
LATU 64
SAMF 43
 
2nd
TULA 67
SELA 57
 
2nd
NEB 70
TENNM 62
 
2nd
MISS 43
CREI 47
 
2nd
PORT 45
MURST 44
 
1st
MARQ 28
MSU 31
 
1st
ARK 34
UNT 36
 
1st
NCOL 39
STET 22
 
1st
IND 40
UNCG 27
 
Half
SJST 21
WMICH 36
 
1st
MNTST 49
TXARL 32
 
1st
UVA 8
LAS 0
 
1st
STLU 5
MSST 13
 
1st
COLST 11
PAC 1
 
10:00pm Tonight
UTAH
NDAK
10:30pm Tonight
ILL
BAY
10:30pm Tonight
UAB
UCLA
11:30pm Tonight
WASH
LBSU
11:59pm Tonight
UCSB
MERC
Final
PHI 0
NYR 3
Final
ANA 1
CHI 4
Final
WAS 5
NYI 2
Final
PIT 2
CAR 4
 
1st OT
NJD 4
DET 4
 
Final
BUF 2
MON 1
 
Final
CLB 0
VAN 5
 
Final
BOS 2
WIN 1
 
3rd
FLA 3
OTT 2
 
2nd Intermission
STL 1
EDM 2
 
2nd
DAL 0
MIN 2