(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Artem Anisimov will try to lift the Columbus
Blue Jackets to their first victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in 12 tries as
the former division rivals clash on Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets had little success against the Blackhawks when the two were
both in the Central Division. Columbus has not beaten Chicago since a 4-3 road
win on Feb. 18, 2011, losing 11 straight to the defending Stanley Cup
Columbus, which shifted from the Western Conference to the East prior to this
season, also has lost five in a row in Chicago.
The Blue Jackets, though, come in riding a string of three straight victories,
with Anisimov having scored the game-winner in each contest. He scored twice
in Tuesday's 4-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars.
Anisimov scored to cap a three-goal first period for the Blue Jackets and
found the net again with 4:07 left in the game after the Stars had climbed
within 3-2 with two goals in the first 3:22 of the third period. He has scored
five times over a four-game goal streak, and his 18 tallies on the season
matches a career high set in 2010-11 with the New York Rangers.
"Right now he might be as good as we've seen him play in a Columbus uniform,"
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said of Anisimov, who is in his second season
with the team. "(He scored) two huge goals for us, especially that last one
the way the game was going."
Boone Jenner and R.J. Umberger also had goals for the Blue Jackets, who got 31
saves from Sergei Bobrovsky.
Anisimov's recent heroics may have helped the Blue Jackets decide to deal oft-
injured winger Marian Gaborik on Wednesday ahead of the trade deadline.
Gaborik, acquired from the Rangers at last season's deadline, had appeared in
just 22 games with Columbus this season, netting six goals with eight assists.
Gaborik was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Matt
Frattin and a pair of draft picks. Frattin has just two goals and four assists
in 40 games this season.
Columbus also added depth at its blue line, picking up defenseman Nick Schultz
from the Edmonton Oilers for a fifth-round draft pick.
Columbus, of course, is chasing just the second postseason berth in club
history and currently holds the second wild card spot in the East with 69
points. That is just one point ahead of both Detroit and Washington, but also
just one behind the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan
Chicago is involved in its own tight race, sitting between the St. Louis Blues
and Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The second-place Blackhawks
fell two points behind the Blues on Tuesday following a 4-2 loss to the
Avalanche and a St. Louis win over Tampa Bay.
The setback by the Blackhawks also allowed the Avs to pull within a point of
"We lost a lot of ground tonight. You look at the four-point swing (to the
Blues). Now we're behind and Colorado's one point (back)," said Blackhawks
coach Joel Quenneville. "But a lot of things can change, and I'd love to move
ahead and we'd love to finish first in our division. We know we have to be
better and more consistent for stretches in games. For the most part, we did
the right things tonight. We should've taken advantage of them."
Ben Smith and Jonathan Toews scored versus Colorado, which potted three goals
in the third period to hand Chicago its third loss in four games. The
Blackhawks have been held to a pair of goals or fewer in all three of those
Corey Crawford stopped just 17-of-20 shots for the Blackhawks and will get a
chance to rebound tonight. He is 9-2-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and
one shutout in 11 previous meetings with the Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky is 1-0-1 in his career when facing the 'Hawks, stopping 69-of-71
shots faced for a 0.96 GAA and .972 save percentage.
The Sports Network