Columbus Blue Jackets

Goalie Nods: Hutchinson gets a sixth straight start

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Michael Hutchinson gets the nod in Nashville

Michael Hutchinson will look to right the ship tonight in Nashville. The Jets’ goaltender allowed three goals on 17 shots in a loss to the Senators on Wednesday. Hutchinson has lost three of his last five games while posting a 2.57 GAA and .906 save percentage. The Jets have not won in Nashville this season and will look to avoid a third straight loss to the Preds.

Pekka Rinne, who has lost four in a row, gets the nod for Nashville.

Elsewhere…

Blues at Leafs: Brian Elliott vs. Jonathan Bernier

Stars at Lightning: Jhonas Enroth vs. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Islanders at Panthers: Michal Neuvirth vs. Dan Ellis

Sabres at Capitals: Anders Lindback (unconfirmed) vs. Braden Holtby

Avalanche at Blue Jackets: Semyon Varlamov vs. Curtis McElhinney

Canadiens at Coyotes: Carey Price vs. Mike Smith

Penguins at Kings: Marc-Andre Fleury (unconfirmed) vs. Jonathan Quick (unconfirmed).

Canucks at Sharks: Eddie Lack vs. Antti Niemi

Ovechkin a game-time decision vs. the Sabres

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Alex Ovechkin will be a game-time decision tonight when the Washington Capitals play host to the Buffalo Sabres.

Ovechkin missed Caps’ 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night due to a lower body injury.

It was the first game the Washington captain has missed this season.

As for tonight?

“We’ll see,” Ovechkin told The Washington Post. “I’m probably going to take a warmup and we’ll see how it goes.”

The 29-year-old, who leads the league in both goals (43) and points (67), suffered the injury on Tuesday night in Columbus.

Ovechkin skated briefly Friday, but left the team’s practice early.

“It was a pain, probably if it was a playoff game, I would be in,” he said. “Right now, you don’t want to push when you don’t feel healthy enough. Right now I feel much better so I’m going to try.

“I still was a little bit soreness, but I think you can ask everybody in the locker room right now, somebody have soreness in everybody.”

According to the Post, if Ovechkin can’t go, rookie forward Andre Burakovsky will start his second straight game.

Washington lost its only other meeting with the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 on Nov. 22.

Following tonight’s game, Washington has three days off prior to playing host to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.

Jackets recall Bourque from Springfield

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Olli Jokinen may not be the only player suiting up for his third team this season.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have added Rene Bourque on emergency recall from the AHL’s Springfield Falcons.

The Jackets play host to the Colorado Avalanche tonight.

Columbus acquired Bourque, who started the season with the Montreal Canadiens, from the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.

The 33-year-old appeared in 30 games for the Ducks scoring two goals and six assists to go along with a minus-4 rating.

Bourque had two assists in 13 games with Montreal prior to being waived in November. He also dressed in four AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs scoring two goals and two assists.

The Ducks acquired Bourque in exchange for defenseman Bryan Allen on Nov. 20.

Columbus won its only other meeting against Colorado 4-3 on Jan. 4.

Goalie nods: Dubnyk to make 23rd straight start

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Devan stays busy

More of the same for Minnesota tonight — Devan Dubnyk will start when the Wild take on the Hurricanes in Carolina.

Tonight will mark Dubnyk’s 23rd straight start, a stretch in which he’s showed zero signs of fatigue or slowing down. He’s gone 17-3-1 during his time with the Wild, posting a 1.62 GAA, .939 save percentage and five shutouts.

At this stage — given his stellar play and heavy workload — one has to wonder if Dubnyk could slide into Vezina contention as one of the three finalists. The only category he’s not among the league leaders is wins (26), but is tied for 10th overall, which isn’t too shabby.

For Carolina, Anton Khudobin will be in goal.

Elsewhere…

Jackets at Devils: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Cory Schneider

Sabres at Sens: Chad Johnson vs. Andrew Hammond

Flames at Wings: Jonas Hiller vs. Jimmy Howard

Oilers at ‘Hawks: Ben Scrivens vs. Corey Crawford

Pens at Ducks: Marc-Andre Fleury (probable) vs. Frederik Andersen (probable)

Friedman: Ducks felt their success was a ‘bit of a mirage’

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The Anaheim Ducks are an interesting team, to say the least.

Sixty-six games into the season and the Ducks sit atop the NHL standings with a 42-17-7 record.

Yet compared to the other teams in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, Anaheim’s statistics are remarkably, um, unremarkable:

— Ninth in goals per game
— 18th in goals-against
— 22nd-ranked power play, with the 13th-ranked PK
— 16th in shots per game, 15th in shots against
— 15th in score-adjusted Fenwick

As we’ve noted before on PHT, the one thing the Ducks have done really well is win one-goal games, in which they’re a rather implausible 26-0-7.

Where are we going with all this?

Well, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Ducks themselves had doubts that they were as good as their record suggested. Hence, all the trades they made leading up to the deadline, acquiring the likes of James Wisniewski, Simon Despres, and Korbinian Holzer for the blue line, as well as forwards Tomas Fleischmann and Jiri Sekac.

“It’s interesting. They really like what they did,” Friedman told Sportsnet 960 yesterday, per Nichols on Hockey. “And it’s pretty clear – and I didn’t really realize it until I spoke to them – they think that their success was a little bit of a mirage. That they felt that [goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson] were absolutely saving them and they didn’t think they were very good.

“They felt very strongly that they could handle themselves against the heavier teams. The Kings, they felt okay with. The Blues, they felt okay with. But the really good-skating teams – the Blackhawks and some of the Eastern teams that saw them recently like Tampa – they thought they were just terrible against them. They couldn’t get the puck and they had nothing they could do.”

The Ducks, by the way, have won seven of their last eight heading into tonight’s game versus Pittsburgh.