The improving Columbus Blue Jackets look to continue their climb out of the Metropolitan Division cellar Thursday when they host the Montreal Canadiens.
After a five-game losing streak, the Blue Jackets have earned points in their last three games, including a pair of home ice wins over Philadelphia. Thursday’s game is the second of a six-game homestand for Columbus.
On Tuesday, Vladislav Gavrikov scored at 3:14 of overtime to give the Blue Jackets their second overtime win, with Gavrikov accounting for both game-winners.
Boone Jenner scored twice, and Eric Robinson had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who did get a dose of bad news in the win.
Elvis Merzlikins allowed two goals on 17 shots before leaving the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Merzlikins was replaced by Joonas Korpisalo, who made 18 saves. Columbus lost a pair of two-goal leads against Philadelphia before prevailing in overtime.
“We’ve got five out of six points here in three games, it’s a good stretch with the amount of injuries that have piled up,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “We lost ourselves a bit in the second period there, especially the last 10-12 minutes, but we gathered ourselves.”
Before the game, the Blue Jackets activated center Sean Kuraly off injured reserve and placed defenseman Zach Werenski on IR, retroactive to Nov. 12.
Kuraly, 29, missed two games with an upper-body injury suffered on Nov. 5 versus Colorado. He has three goals and two assists in 13 games with the Blue Jackets this season.
Werenski, 25, suffered a separated shoulder and torn labrum in a 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Nov. 10. The team announced that Werenski is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.
The Canadiens are coming off a 5-1 home loss to the red-hot New Jersey Devils, who recorded their NHL-leading 10th straight win.
Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Canadiens while Evgenii Dadonov scored his first goal for Montreal, which had its season-high three-game winning streak snapped.
“We knew they were playing well,” Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki said. “They’re a fast team, they’re up and down the ice real quick, and I think we couldn’t really find solutions early. We were on our heels a lot, playing in our own zone, and it’s not a good recipe for us.”
Allen did salvage some positives from the loss, though.
“We just weren’t as sharp as we were last week. We’ll get on the road for a one-game trip and then get back (home) and get another chance Saturday,” Allen said. “We’ve been playing fast (and) on top of teams lately. We sort of had that done to us (Tuesday) but it’s a good learning experience for a lot of guys (on the team).”
Montreal’s top line of Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, and Kirby Dach was held without a point against New Jersey. All three entered Tuesday’s game as the top three scorers on the team.
On Wednesday, the Canadiens recalled forward Rem Pitlick from the AHL’s Laval Rocket. The recall comes after the team confirmed Tuesday that forward Jonathan Drouin would miss four to six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Pitlick, who hasn’t scored a point in seven games with Montreal this season, was on the ice Wednesday at the team’s practice complex before the team left for Columbus.
–Field Level Media