Vancouver (36-21-2) at Columbus (25-27-9)

Cloudy Currently: Columbus, OH
Temp: 67° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Fri Feb 12, 2010
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A coaching change has brought a new sense of promise for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The play of goaltender Steve Mason(notes) has also helped.

Trying to work their way into playoff position, the Blue Jackets look for a season-high fourth consecutive victory when they host the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Though Columbus (25-27-9) has the second-fewest points in the Western Conference with 59, it believes it might have a chance to get back in the race based on its play over the last week.

The Blue Jackets are 3-0 since Claude Noel replaced the fired Ken Hitchcock as coach Feb. 3. Their last two wins have come against two playoff-caliber teams, 4-0 over Buffalo on Saturday and 3-0 over West-leading San Jose on Wednesday.

“We’re in the playoff race and (San Jose is) one the teams we’re going to have to go through to get back in the standings,” Mason told the Blue Jackets’ official Web site after making 40 saves against the Sharks for his second consecutive shutout.

The franchise’s all-time leader with 14 shutouts, Mason has stopped 90 of the 91 shots he’s faced during the Blue Jackets’ winning streak.

“The last three games (Mason’s) been unstoppable,” said teammate Jakub Voracek(notes), who matched a career high with his ninth goal by snapping a 26-game goal drought against the Sharks.

After he won 33 games and led the league with 10 shutouts as a rookie last season, Mason is 16-18-6 with a 3.06 goals-against average in 2009-10.

Mason’s hot streak will be put to the test against Vancouver, a team that scored six goals on 17 shots against him en route to a 7-3 home win over Columbus on Jan. 5. Mason is 3-2-0 with a 4.07 GAA against the Canucks.

Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash(notes) has two goals with three assists in his last five games, and he has five assists in two games versus the Canucks (36-21-2) this season.

Though Columbus lost at Vancouver last month, it beat the Canucks 5-3 on the road Oct. 5. The Blue Jackets also have won three in a row at home over the Canucks, though the teams haven’t met in Columbus since Dec. 1, 2008.

The Canucks, tied with Colorado for the Northwest Division lead, improved to 3-3-0 on a 14-game road stretch that’s wrapped around the Olympic break with a 3-0 win at Florida on Thursday. Alex Burrows(notes) and Ryan Kesler(notes) each scored, Alexander Edler(notes) added two assists and Roberto Luongo(notes) made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.

“I think it’s a win more than anything,” said Luongo, who’ll play for the Canadian Olympic team in front of his home fans in Vancouver. “I wanted to make sure we got back to .500 on this road trip.”

After posting his 31st victory, Luongo could be back in net for this contest. Though he’s 7-5-4 with a 2.37 GAA all-time against the Blue Jackets, Luongo is 1-4-0 with a 2.84 GAA at Columbus.

Burrows, who snapped a four-game points drought Thursday, had a hat trick last month against the Blue Jackets.

Vancouver has a day off Saturday before visiting Minnesota in its last game before the Olympic break. The Canucks return to Columbus in their first game after the break March 2.

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Friday, Feb 12