Rangers-Blue Jackets Preview

The Associated Press

The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Marian Gaborik to help rejuvenate a franchise that has made only one playoff appearance since entering the league in 2000.

That deal with the New York Rangers may pay dividends down the road, but Columbus still has plenty to improve if it plans to make a run this season.

Gaborik faces his former team for the first time and the Blue Jackets look to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Rangers on Thursday night.

New York signed Gaborik to a five-year, $37.5 million contract in 2009, and he recorded at least 41 goals twice in his three-plus seasons in the Big Apple.

The Rangers shipped Gaborik to Columbus on April 3 for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore with the Blue Jackets looking to add a veteran scorer. He had eight points as Columbus went 9-3-0 down the stretch last season but still failed to make the playoffs.

The Blue Jackets (5-9-0), who were swept by Detroit in 2009 in their only postseason appearance, are struggling once again despite Gaborik's team-high five goals. He's gone without a point during the current skid, including Tuesday's 4-1 loss to Ottawa.

Columbus had won three straight prior to the losing streak, and coach Todd Richards said he's seen some troubling trends develop.

"It's in our game right now," Richards said. "It's not just with the puck. (Lack of) confidence, and frustration. That comes with losing games. What we have to do is find solutions to win hockey games."

New York (7-8-0) was also having its share of problems under new coach Alain Vigneault but has bounced back to win four of five after a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Captain Ryan Callahan scored his first goal in his second game back after sitting out seven with a broken thumb.

"Everyone contributed right through the lineup," Callahan said. "That is what you need when you're playing one of the top teams in the league. It's a win we can build on."

Brian Boyle had a goal and an assist, while Brassard scored the game's final goal on an assist from Dorsett. Brassard played parts of 5 1/2 seasons with Columbus.

Dorsett has played in all 14 games this season after not suiting up for the Rangers following the trade due to a fractured clavicle he sustained in March.

Henrik Lundqvist made 28 saves Wednesday.

"We have to focus on ourselves," Lundqvist said. "As long as we take care of our business, we are going to end up in good shape."

Rookie Cam Talbot could get the start in goal in the second game of a back-to-back. Talbot is 2-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average in three starts this season.

The Rangers have won four of five meetings with Columbus, who could counter with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky.

Bobrovsky, though, has gone 2-6-0 with a 3.01 GAA over his last eight starts. He hasn't played since allowing three goals on 13 shots in a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 1, with Curtis McElhinney getting the nod in the last two contests.

Bobrovsky is 0-3-1 with a 2.98 GAA in his last four against the Rangers.

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