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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, January 2nd (All times Eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (17-19-4) at Phoenix Coyotes (20-10-9), 9 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - Columbus signed forward Nathan Horton to a seven-year deal this offseason hoping that the former Stanley Cup winner could help the Blue Jackets to just the second playoff appearance in club history.

Shoulder surgery delayed Horton's debut with the Blue Jackets, but the 28- year-old could finally suit up on Thursday night in a road matchup with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The third overall pick of the 2003 draft by the Florida Panthers, Horton reached the 20-goal mark in six of his first seven NHL seasons and had 22 points in 43 games with Boston a season ago. He has also added 36 points in 43 career playoff games, logging eight goals and nine assists in Boston's Cup- winning 2011 playoff run.

The Blue Jackets gave Horton $37.1 million over seven years in July, but the forward underwent shoulder surgery not long after inking the deal and has yet to play this season.

That could change tonight.

"It's not 100 percent, but there is a very good chance he will play (Thursday)," Columbus coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "It may not happen. But based on (Wednesday), right now, there is a really good chance."

While the Blue Jackets will still have to wait to see what a roster that has both Horton and Marian Gaborik active can do -- Gaborik is out with a broken collarbone -- there is also a chance that reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky could dress tonight as at least the backup.

Bobrovsky has not played since Dec. 3 due to a strained groin and is 10-11-2 with a 2.72 goals against average and .909 save percentage in 23 games this season after going 21-11-6 with a 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage a season ago.

Defenseman Dalton Prout is also in line to play tonight for the first time since Dec. 16 because of an upper-body injury, though forwards Matt Calvert and Jack Skille are out due to upper-body ailments.

If Bobrovsky is unable to start, Curtis McElhinney will make his 15th start of the season. He has yielded five goals in back-to-back losses however, making just 18 saves in Tuesday's 5-3 setback to Colorado.

Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, and Nick Foligno provided the goals for the Jackets, who had won three straight prior to two setbacks.

Columbus outshot Colorado 38-23 in the game, with a 26-13 edge through the first two periods, but went 0-for-3 on the power play to drop the opener of a four-game trip.

"We came out good tonight and had a great first period and played well. For awhile there, we kept moving. We have to look at those shifts in the first and see what we did right," Jenner said.

Not much has been going right on the power play for Columbus. It is scoreless in its last 16 chances on the man advantage and just 1-for-24 over the last seven games.

Phoenix will try to extend a six-game point streak, having gone 2-0-4 over that span. All six games have gone past regulation.

Defenseman Keith Yandle may play with a chip on his shoulder tonight after being left off of the U.S. Olympic squad for the upcoming Winter Games. The blueliner is tied for third on Phoenix with 27 points and notched a three- point game in Tuesday's 4-3 overtime victory against Edmonton.

Yandle scored twice, putting home the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left in the extra frame. He also assisted on Mikkel Boedker's game-tying tally with 1:10 to go in regulation.

"I tired to take pride in being a guy that you need a goal when you're down," said Yandle. "But it's not just me, all the guys here work really hard and we're going to keep going forward here."

Tim Kennedy also scored as Phoenix won the opener of a six-game homestand and improved to 11-3-3 as the host.

The Coyotes did so despite starter Mike Smith getting pulled in the second period after yielding three goals on 10 shots faced. Thomas Greiss stopped all 15 shots he faced in 37:38 of relief.

Smith is 4-3-2 with a 2.24 GAA in 11 career starts versus the Blue Jackets, who snapped a three-game series slide with a 1-0 shootout victory at home in the most recent meeting on March 16 of last season.

Columbus, though, has lost three straight and eight of its past 10 in Phoenix.

01/02 10:40:20 ET

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Schedule

Saturday, April 19Full Scoreboard
Chicago3Final(OT) | Box
St. Louis «4Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. St. Louis leads series, 2-0.
Columbus «4Final(OT2) | Box
Pittsburgh3Rink Replay
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Series tied, 1-1.
Minnesota2Final | Box
Colorado «4Rink Replay
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game Two. Colorado leads series, 2-0.
Full Scoreboard

Standings

2013 - 2014 NHL Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
p-Boston 54 19 9 117 261 177 31-7-3 23-12-6 18-9-3
x-Tampa Bay 46 27 9 101 240 215 25-10-6 21-17-3 19-8-3
x-Montreal 46 28 8 100 215 204 23-13-5 23-15-3 18-8-4
x-Detroit 39 28 15 93 222 230 18-13-10 21-15-5 17-8-5
Ottawa 37 31 14 88 236 265 18-17-6 19-14-8 14-9-7
Toronto 38 36 8 84 231 256 24-16-1 14-20-7 14-13-3
Florida 29 45 8 66 196 268 16-20-5 13-25-3 13-16-1
Buffalo 21 51 10 52 157 248 13-21-7 8-30-3 7-18-5
 
Metropolitan Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Pittsburgh 51 24 7 109 249 207 28-9-4 23-15-3 20-8-2
x-NY Rangers 45 31 6 96 218 193 20-17-4 25-14-2 16-11-3
x-Philadelphia 42 30 10 94 236 235 24-14-3 18-16-7 15-11-4
x-Columbus 43 32 7 93 231 216 22-15-4 21-17-3 16-13-1
Washington 38 30 14 90 235 240 21-13-7 17-17-7 12-15-3
New Jersey 35 29 18 88 197 208 21-11-9 14-18-9 16-9-5
Carolina 36 35 11 83 207 230 18-17-6 18-18-5 15-13-2
NY Islanders 34 37 11 79 225 267 13-19-9 21-18-2 10-16-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
2013 - 2014 NHL Western Conference Standings
 
Central Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
y-Colorado 52 22 8 112 250 220 26-11-4 26-11-4 19-6-3
x-St. Louis 52 23 7 111 248 191 28-9-4 24-14-3 21-6-2
x-Chicago 46 21 15 107 267 220 27-7-7 19-14-8 13-13-3
x-Minnesota 43 27 12 98 207 206 26-10-5 17-17-7 14-12-3
x-Dallas 40 31 11 91 235 228 23-11-7 17-20-4 13-11-5
Nashville 38 32 12 88 216 242 19-17-5 19-15-7 12-13-4
Winnipeg 37 35 10 84 227 237 18-17-6 19-18-4 9-15-5
 
Pacific Division W L OTL Pts GF GA Home Away Div
z-Anaheim 54 20 8 116 266 209 29-8-4 25-12-4 22-4-3
x-San Jose 51 22 9 111 249 200 29-7-5 22-15-4 18-7-3
x-Los Angeles 46 28 8 100 206 174 23-14-4 23-14-4 16-10-3
Phoenix 37 30 15 89 216 231 22-14-5 15-16-10 14-9-6
Vancouver 36 35 11 83 196 223 20-15-6 16-20-5 12-13-4
Calgary 35 40 7 77 209 241 19-19-3 16-21-4 11-15-3
Edmonton 29 44 9 67 203 270 16-22-3 13-22-6 8-17-4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
z= clinched overall points title
  • PGA: RBC Heritage

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR
 
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
Final
WAS 3
STL 4
Final
CLE 0
TOR 5
Final
DET 5
ANA 2
Final
BOS 4
BAL 2
Final
KAN 5
MIN 4
Final
CHC 8
CIN 4
Final
OAK 4
HOU 3
Final
PIT 7
MIL 8
Final
NYM 5
ATL 7
Final
TAM 16
NYY 1
Final
MIA 7
SEA 0
Final
TEX 6
CWS 3
Final
LOS 8
ARI 6
Final
COL 3
PHI 1
Final
SDP 3
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
ATL
 
1:10pm Today
MIA
SEA
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
MIL
 
1:35pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
NYY
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
3:05pm Today
TEX
CWS
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
4:10pm Today
LOS
ARI
 
4:10pm Today
COL
PHI
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
SFG
 
7:05pm Tonight
BOS
BAL
 
Final
TOR 87
BRK 94
Final
LAC 105
GSW 109
Final
IND 93
ATL 101
Final
OKC 100
MEM 86
1:00pm Today
SAN
DAL
3:30pm Today
MIA
CHA
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
WAS
9:30pm Tonight
HOU
POR
Final
STL 4
CHI 3
Final
PIT 3
CLB 4
Final
COL 4
MIN 2
12:00pm Today
NYR
PHI
3:00pm Today
BOS
DET
7:00pm Tonight
MON
TAM
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
LOS
Final
NOR 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Today
NOR
DUR