(SportsNetwork.com) – The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t won a game in over two
weeks, but the struggling club hopes to change that Monday when the Florida
Panthers visit Nationwide Arena.
Columbus has lost six straight games (0-5-1) since picking up a home win over
San Jose on Nov. 15. The win against the Sharks is just one of two victories
for the Blue Jackets during a 2-13-2 stretch that dates back to late October.
However, the Blue Jackets have had a run of success against the Panthers
recently and with two straight games coming up against Florida, Columbus has a
good chance to return to the win column soon.
Columbus has won eight straight against the Panthers, who haven’t tasted
victory in this series since notching a road win on Nov. 21, 2007. The Blue
Jackets own an all-time 11-3-1 record in this series and are also riding a
five-game home winning streak versus Florida.
The Blue Jackets also will visit the Panthers in their next game on Thursday.
This is not a home-and-home set, however, because Florida will visit Detroit
tomorrow before meeting up with Columbus in South Florida.
Although the Panthers have struggled in the series against the Blue Jackets,
the club is coming into Monday’s clash off consecutive victories and will try
to post its first three-game winning streak of 2014-15.
Florida recently capped a three-game homestand with two straight victories
over Carolina and Ottawa. The Panthers recorded a 1-0 win in Wednesday’s tilt
against the Hurricanes and posted a 3-2 win Friday against the Senators.
Roberto Luongo left Wednesday’s game with an arm injury and was unable to suit
up against Ottawa. However, Al Montoya filled in nicely for Florida’s No. 1
netminder on Friday, stopping 22-of-24 shots to help the Panthers down the
Montoya also made 22 saves to help complete Wednesday’s shutout over the
‘Canes after Luongo left midway through the second period.
Jimmy Hayes scored the game-winning goal in the third period to help lead the
Panthers past Ottawa. Dylan Olsen and Sean Bergenheim also scored for Florida,
which hasn’t won three in a row since a five-game tear from Dec. 10-19 of last
The Panthers assigned goaltender Dan Ellis to San Antonio of AHL on Sunday,
meaning Luongo should be able to at least suit up for tonight’s game. It’s
unclear if he’ll be starting or if Montoya will get the call instead.
Columbus suffered its latest loss Saturday in Nashville, dropping a 2-1
regulation decision to the Predators. The score was tied at 1-1 after Ryan
Johansen tallied the Blue Jackets’ lone goal less than four minutes into the
third period, but Colin Wilson provided the game-winner with 2:12 remaining.
Johansen’s goal came on the power play, while Curtis McElhinney kept his team
in the game, stopping 40-of-42 shots in a tough loss.
“(The Predators) do a great job,” said Columbus coach Todd Richards. “They
make it difficult executing, making plays coming out of your zone.”
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start tonight’s game. He has surrendered three
or more goals in each of his past five outings, but Columbus’ No. 1 goalie
also boasts a lifetime 6-1-0 record and 2.41 goals against average in seven
games against the Panthers.
The Blue Jackets, who have been decimated by injuries this season, have scored
only five goals over their past four games. Columbus hopes forward Brandon
Dubinsky can make his season debut and help boost the offense tonight.
Dubinsky has yet to play this season after undergoing abdominal surgery, but
he has been practicing with the club and is questionable for tonight. He was
third on the team last season with 50 points.
There is more bad news for Columbus, however, as center Artem Anisimov is
expected to miss the next 2-to-3 months because of a torn triceps. Anisimov
was hurt during this past Saturday’s game against Nashville and was placed on
injured reserve Monday.
The 26-year-old Russian native has two goals and four assists for six points
in 16 games this season, his third with Columbus. He also missed seven games
earlier this season because of an upper body injury.