Blue Jackets-Blues Preview

The Associated Press

The St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets each have managed to string together victories at the appropriate time.

With both in the mix for a playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference and looking to continue their recent success, the Blues try for a third straight win over the visiting Blue Jackets on Friday night.

Fourth-line winger Adam Cracknell scored his first two goals of the season, Brian Elliott made 33 saves and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk scored in the sixth round of the shootout as St. Louis (19-14-2) overcame a late tying goal by Chicago to post its second straight victory following three losses, 4-3 on Thursday.

"We don't like to give up leads in the third period,'' forward David Backes said. "It was one of the more entertaining shootouts I think you'll ever see.

"We'll take the other point any way we can.''

The win propelled the Blues into the eighth and final playoff spot in the West, one point ahead of Edmonton and Columbus (16-14-7).

Making his Blue Jackets debut, Marian Gaborik scored the go-ahead goal at the 4:16 mark of the third and added an assist to help Columbus win its third consecutive game following an 0-2-1 stretch, 3-1 at Nashville on Thursday.

"To be able to take two points out of this building is huge, and we have to keep this thing going in St. Louis,'' said Columbus winger Matt Calvert, who has recorded three of his seven goals and two of his six assists in four games.

Columbus hopes to ride that momentum and end its struggles against the Blues. St. Louis has outscored the Blue Jackets 6-2 while winning the first two meetings this season. It's won nine of 11 over Columbus and 14 of 17 at home in the series.

The Blue Jackets hope the addition of Gaborik will reverse that trend.

Acquired along with two minor league defensemen from the New York Rangers for Derek Dorsett, Derick Brassard, John Moore and a draft pick Wednesday, Gaborik made an immediate impact and seemed excited about playing for his new club.

"I am pleasantly surprised with the speed of the team,'' said Gaborik, who scored at least 41 goals in two of the previous three seasons with the Rangers, but had nine and 10 assists in 35 games for them this year. "The young guys and small forwards were flying. We were supporting each other out there, and everyone contributed."

His teammates are just as happy to have him in the fold.

"You just have to look at it as a fresh start, and he made it look really good for himself,'' forward Vinny Prospal said.

Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped 67 of 69 shots in the last two games.

Forward Blake Comeau could make his Blue Jackets debut Friday after he was acquired from Calgary on Wednesday. He had four goals and three assists in 33 games for the Flames this season.

Backes scored one of his four goals this season versus Columbus and another Thursday to snap a 14-game goal drought. He has four and eight assists in his last 11 games against the Blue Jackets.

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who was acquired from Calgary this week, had an assist in his St. Louis debut Thursday.

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