Columbus (11-23-3) at St. Louis (23-13-1)

Cloudy Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 40° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Thu Jan 15, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Prior to his recent slump, goaltender Chris Osgood had been rolling along, picking up wins and helping the St. Louis Blues to one of the best records in the Western Conference.

If the Blues want to beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, Osgood will have to rediscover his earlier form.

Osgood was 17-6-1 with a 1.98 goals-against average following a 4-2 triumph over the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 18.

However, the Blues have won just three of their last 13 games, with Osgood going 0-5-3 with a 2.80 GAA in his last nine starts. He’s allowed nine goals in his last two starts, including the first four in a 5-3 loss at Montreal on Tuesday.

Osgood will undoubtedly receive the bulk of the work for a while because Brent Johnson cleared waivers on Thursday and will try to revive his career with Worcester of the American Hockey League.

In 2002, Johnson became the first goalie in NHL history to record shutouts in his first three postseason appearances. He has since been plagued by inconsistency, and lost his starting job late last season when the Blues acquired Osgood.

Blues coach Joel Quenneville expects Osgood to realize the situation and respond.

“Over the course of the season he’s been excellent for us, but I think these last two games he’s had a couple of tough nights,” Quenneville said. “We’ve been relying on him and leaning on him all year and he’s been pulling through for us, but we all go through it and hopefully he can rebound and we can rebound as a team.”

The Blues’ inability to score on the power play has also hurt, as has allowing four unanswered goals in two consecutive games.

Despite having its best offensive night of the season in a 7-4 victory over Chicago on Monday, all of St. Louis’ goals came at even strength. The Blues have just one goal in their last 22 chances with the man advantage.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, will be looking for a positive finish to their season-high seven-game road trip.

Columbus, which started the season with a 14-game road winless streak, has recorded eight points in its last seven away from Nationwide Arena (3-2-2). The Blue Jackets, however, are just 1-6-1-1 all-time at the Savvis Center.

The Blue Jackets are coming in off their second straight tie, 2-2 on Sunday at Los Angeles. Marc Denis made 16 of his 30 saves in the third period, as the Blue Jackets earned their Western Conference-low 31st point.

STANDINGS (through Jan. 13): Blue Jackets - 31 points, 5th place, 27 PB, Central Division. Blues - 52 points, 2nd place, 6 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, 25 goals and 30 points; Todd Marchant, 18 assists; Jody Shelley, 115 PIM. Blues - Keith Tkachuk, 19 goals; Doug Weight, 30 assists; Tkachuk and Weight, 39 points; Mike Danton, 92 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 13): Blue Jackets - Power play: 13.4 percent (24 for 215), 24th in NHL. Penalty killing: 87.1 percent (25 for 195), 2nd. Blues - Power play: 20.4 percent (37 for 181), 5th. Penalty killing: 84.3 percent (33 for 211), 15th.

GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (9-19-5, 3 SO, 2.44 GAA); Fred Brathwaite (2-7-1, 3.11). Blues - Osgood (17-11-4, 2, 2.22); Reinhard Divis (2-0-0, 3.84).

SEASON SERIES: Blues, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; Blues, 3-2. At Columbus, Ryan Johnson scored the game-winning goal with 3:44 left, and Weight added a goal and an assist as St. Louis snapped a five-game winless streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-13-3-2 on the road; Blues - 14-4-4-0 at home.

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