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COLUMBUS, Ohio (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Columbus Blue Jackets look to avoid their third straight defeat and get their offense back in gear when they host the red-hot Florida Panthers on Friday.
The Blue Jackets, who opened the season with eight consecutive losses, had won six of eight in the second half of November before scoring two goals combined in losses at St. Louis and Montreal.
“We played well enough to win and we found a way to lose,” Columbus coach John Tortorella told reporters after the 2-1 loss at Montreal on Tuesday. “They didn’t beat us. We beat ourselves.”
The Blue Jackets are tied for the least points in the league and will try to cool off the Panthers, who won 2-1 at Nashville on Thursday for their season-high fourth consecutive victory.
Florida allowed five goals during their streak, which also includes road wins at Detroit and St. Louis before Thursday.
Panthers’ leading scorer Jaromir Jagr has been held without a goal for five straight games, leaving him one shy of Marcel Dionne (731) for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN Ohio (Columbus)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (12-9-4): Al Montoya is expected to be in net Friday to give Roberto Luongo a rest after the veteran goalie limited the last five opponents to seven goals combined. Center Nick Bjugstad (lower body) is likely to miss his third straight game and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (knee) could return to the lineup after sitting out the past eight. Former Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau looks to provide a spark after notching his second goal of the season Thursday – the Panthers’ first power-play tally in four games.
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (10-16-0): One of the biggest issues for Columbus lately is special teams where it has allowed power-play goals in three straight and is 0-of-19 with the man advantage over the last eight contests. While Ryan Johansen has 11 points in the last 11 games, three of their key offensive threats – forwards Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad and Scott Hartnell – have combined for one point in the last four games. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin (broken nose) has missed the last five contests and is questionable for Friday.
1. Florida has killed off all 14 power plays against in the last five games.
2. Columbus G Sergei Bobrovsky allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his last nine contests, winning six times.
3. The Panthers snapped a 10-game losing streak against the Blue Jackets last January with a 3-2 victory.
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