NHL Previews

Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets Preview and Predictions

By Gracenote
NATIONWIDE ARENA COLUMBUS
Complete
Chicago Blackhawks
ML: 129
3
Sun Dec 29 05:00 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets
ML: -165
2

Best Odds


The Columbus Blue Jackets have seen their lineup decimated by both injuries and illness yet they still are in the midst of their best stretch of the season by going three weeks without a regulation loss. The Blue Jackets will attempt to extend their season-high point streak to 10 games when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

Columbus had its five-game winning streak snapped in a 2-1 overtime setback at Washington on Friday night but managed to extend its point string to nine (6-0-3) despite the absence of seven regulars. "It's a team that has a little bit of belief in it as far as all the new bodies," coach John Tortorella told reporters. "It's a team that's a team. I think that's the only way you can survive some of the things that have gone on with our personnel." The Blackhawks head into a three-game road trip battling attrition of their own with five players on injured reserve, but they have won three of four after routing the New York Islanders 5-2 on Friday night. "If we can win two out of three going forward, we're going to climb," Chicago goaltender Robin Lehner told the media. "Everyone's expecting we go on a huge run, which we want to do, but let's be realistic."

TV: 5 p.m. ET, NBCS Chicago, FS Ohio (Columbus)

ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (16-17-6): With this week's news that defensemen Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, rookie blue-liner Dennis Gilbert picked an opportune time to score his first NHL goal Friday. "Yeah, he's been good," coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. "He's happy to play a defensive style. Physical, wants to defend, realizes that's an important part of the game and that's good for our group." Lehner is 6-3-0 with a 1.97 goals-against average versus Columbus after a 3-2 win on Oct. 18.

ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (17-14-7): Columbus continues to receive contributions from its youngsters as Jakob Lilja became the sixth player this season to notch his first NHL goal in Friday's loss, with linemate Ryan MacInnis assisting for his first career point. Joonas Korpisalo has appeared in each game during the current point streak, including eight starts, and surrendered 15 goals. Korpisalo, who owns a 1.95 goals-against average and .932 save percentage this month, gave up five goals in his lone start versus Chicago in October of 2017.

OVERTIME

1. Blackhawks leading scorer RW Patrick Kane has lit up Columbus for 19 goals and 55 points in 45 meetings.

2. Blue Jackets C Pierre-Luc Dubois has eight points in his last seven games overall and five (three goals, two assists) in five matchups versus Chicago.

3. Chicago F Alex DeBrincat has two goals and two assists in the last three games versus Columbus.

PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 3, Blackhawks 2  Bet Now

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