Video: Crosby engages in spirited fight with Dubinsky

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Sidney Crosby has endured a bit of a cold streak — at least by his high standards — so he tried to help his team out in a less conventional way tonight.

He dropped the gloves and had a spirited fight against the Blue Jackets’ Brandon Dubinsky, which you can watch below:

Crosby has now engaged in six fights over 604 career games.

This came after Crosby was denied by goaltender Curtis McElhinney on a golden opportunity earlier in the period:

The Penguins captain has been held off the scoresheet in two straight contests and Pittsburgh has lost both games. That by itself isn’t too big of an issue, but Pittsburgh is just 10-10-5 following its tremendous 26-6-4 start to the 2014-15 campaign. The Penguins have a particularly troubling 7-10-4 record in games against their Metropolitan rivals.

Pittsburgh and Columbus were tied at one through 40 minutes.

‘I’ve got to know better,’ says Dubinsky after costly penalty in Blue Jackets loss

The Columbus Blue Jackets had a two-goal lead, and were looking in good shape against the Montreal Canadiens, one of the contenders in the Eastern Conference.

Then, the Blue Jackets went on a parade to the penalty box. Suddenly, that two-goal lead evaporated. They were no longer looking in good shape. In fact, quite the opposite.

The Canadiens scored three power plays in a span of less than four minutes late in the third period to defeat the Blue Jackets by a final score of 3-2 on a historic night for Columbus defenseman Kevin Connauton.

The winning goal came from Max Pacioretty – his second of the evening to hit the 20-goal mark this season – with under five minutes remaining in regulation. He scored just 22 seconds after Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky was whistled for a boarding penalty.

The 28-year-old Dubinsky, a veteran of 513 NHL games, was critical of himself afterward.

“I’ve got to know better. I’m a veteran and looked at to be a leader in here. It was just a dumbass play. I’ve got to make sure I hold myself accountable and be better,” said Dubinsky, as per the Columbus Dispatch.

Nick Foligno is having himself quite the contract year

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During the contentious Ryan Johansen negotiations, Columbus president John Davidson said the following:

“We understand the make-up of our team, we understand the CBA, we understand players deserve money and players deserve to be paid the way they should be paid and we’ll continue to do that.”

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Nick Foligno.

The 27-year-old is a pending UFA and playing the best hockey of his life. Through 28 games he leads the Blue Jackets in scoring with 14 goals and 27 points, is getting a boatload of ice time (19:10 per game, up from 16:04 last season) and sits sixth in the NHL with seven power-play goals.

It is, as many have pointed out, quite the contract year.

There’s no denying Columbus wants to keep Foligno and Foligno wants to stay in Columbus. Per the Dispatch, agent Pat Morris has started negotiations with GM Jarmo Kekalainen.

“I’m happy that they’re talking,” Foligno said. “Hopefully they can get something done in a timely manner.”

But two key questions remain: 1) What can Foligno get from Columbus, and 2) What can he get on the open market?

The first question is interesting. For all their bickering with Johansen and Kurt Overhardt, the Jackets do have a history of rewarding players that have, for lack of a better term, “earned it.”

Brandon Dubinsky’s a good example. Viewed as a heart-and-soul guy, he netted a six-year, $35.1 million extension this summer, one Kekalainen called a “well-earned contract,” adding that Dubinsky “plays like we want every Blue Jacket to play.”

Is Foligno held in the same regard? One would think he’s close. He’s been a good foot soldier since coming over from Ottawa in the Marc Methot trade of 2012, and actually played more games in a Blue Jackets uniform (144) than Dubinsky (109).

It’s also worth noting Foligno returned from a knee injury during last year’s playoffs to score this huge OT winner in Game 4 versus Pittsburgh, one of the biggest goals in franchise history:

The open market, though, will be tantalizing.

Foligno’s in the last of a three-year, $9.25 million deal that carries a $3.08M cap hit. It makes him the sixth highest-paid forward on the team; one expects all those figures will rise if he’s back next season.

Columbus shouldn’t have any issues paying Foligno. Even if it needs to break the bank for pending RFA goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, there still would be plenty of money left over — and there’s no telling what additional financial relief could come on the Nathan Horton front if he’s unable to return from a severe back injury.

On the open market, though, Foligno could also score huge.

There just aren’t many guys going to market anymore. Depending on what happens with Chris Stewart and Mats Zuccarello, Foligno projects to be one of the premier forwards under the age of 30 and given some of the deals from last summer — like the $20M Benoit Pouliot got from Edmonton, or $27.5M Florida paid for Dave Bolland — well, the idea testing waters has to be tempting.

And make no mistake, Foligno has value. Aside from career-high offensive numbers, he’s also showcased his versatility over the last few years, frequently shifting between wing and center.

“There have been a lot of times the last three seasons where Nicky has ended up down low in coverage playing the wing,” head coach Todd Richards said, per the Dispatch. “He’s comfortable down there.

“We need that depth down the middle.”

There is a final option to consider here, of course. If Columbus can’t strike deal with Foligno and the trade deadline draws close, would it be willing to risk losing an asset for nothing in free agency? Remember, this is the same club that traded away Marian Gaborik at last year’s deadline — in a year where it made the postseason.

Just when you thought they were getting healthy, Jackets lose Hartnell (broken finger)

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Winners of five straight, things were looking up for the Columbus Blue Jackets… which means something had to go wrong.

On Friday, it did.

The Jackets placed forward Scott Hartnell on injured reserve with a broken finger, suffered during Thursday’s 3-2 win over Washington. He’s expected to miss two weeks with the ailment.

Prior to getting hurt, Hartnell had six goals and 17 points in 28 games this year, averaging just under 18 minutes a night. The veteran winger had also been a catalyst during the club’s recent winning streak, with three points in the five wins.

The injury is also a step back for Columbus’ overall health. Despite returning a few bodies to the lineup — including alternate captain Brandon Dubinsky — the club is now facing a stretch in which it’ll be without Hartnell, Ryan Murray, Mark Letestu, Artem Anisimov and Fedor Tyutin. The team is also still without Nathan Horton, who has yet to play this season while dealing with a severe back injury.

In a move related to the Hartnell injury, Columbus recalled Kerby Rychel from AHL Springfield on Friday.

Bobrovsky on returning Dubinsky: ‘He drives us’

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As mentioned yesterday, the Columbus Blue Jackets expect Brandon Dubinsky to return to the lineup tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. The team didn’t discount how much of a difference-maker he can be, as the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“Dubi, he’s our leader,” Sergei Bobrovsky said. “He drives us, the whole team. It’s a big thing that he is back.”

Dubinsky also “drives” play, as you can see from his strong possession numbers, even in heavy-lifting situations. Not many players can score in decent bunches, play a physical game and do the little things to move the puck in the right direction quite like the 28-year-old forward.

Columbus is 9-15-2 for 20 points without him, tying the Buffalo Sabres for the second-worst standings total in the league (although they do hold a game in hand). It’s possible that the Blue Jackets dug too deep a hole in the 26 games without Dubinsky to make a charge for the playoffs, but if it isn’t too late, Dubinsky can make a significiant difference.

The Blue Jackets are currently on a three-game winning streak, so things are looking up in general.