|Date of game: 3/6/2014
Columbus Blue Jackets (32-25-5) at Chicago Blackhawks (36-13-14), 8 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - The red-hot Artem Anisimov will try to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to their first victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in 12 tries as the former division rivals clash on Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets had little success against the Blackhawks when the two were both in the Central Division. Columbus has not beaten Chicago since a 4-3 road win on Feb. 18, 2011, losing 11 straight to the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Columbus, which shifted from the Western Conference to the East prior to this season, also has lost five in a row in Chicago.
The Blue Jackets, though, come in riding a string of three straight victories, with Anisimov having scored the game-winner in each contest. He scored twice in Tuesday's 4-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars.
Anisimov scored to cap a three-goal first period for the Blue Jackets and found the net again with 4:07 left in the game after the Stars had climbed within 3-2 with two goals in the first 3:22 of the third period. He has scored five times over a four-game goal streak, and his 18 tallies on the season matches a career high set in 2010-11 with the New York Rangers.
"Right now he might be as good as we've seen him play in a Columbus uniform," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said of Anisimov, who is in his second season with the team. "(He scored) two huge goals for us, especially that last one the way the game was going."
Boone Jenner and R.J. Umberger also had goals for the Blue Jackets, who got 31 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky.
Anisimov's recent heroics may have helped the Blue Jackets decide to deal oft- injured winger Marian Gaborik on Wednesday ahead of the trade deadline. Gaborik, acquired from the Rangers at last season's deadline, had appeared in just 22 games with Columbus this season, netting six goals with eight assists.
Gaborik was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for forward Matt Frattin and a pair of draft picks. Frattin has just two goals and four assists in 40 games this season.
Columbus also added depth at its blue line, picking up defenseman Nick Schultz from the Edmonton Oilers for a fifth-round draft pick.
Columbus, of course, is chasing just the second postseason berth in club history and currently holds the second wild card spot in the East with 69 points. That is just one point ahead of both Detroit and Washington, but also just one behind the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Chicago is involved in its own tight race, sitting between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The second-place Blackhawks fell two points behind the Blues on Tuesday following a 4-2 loss to the Avalanche and a St. Louis win over Tampa Bay.
The setback by the Blackhawks also allowed the Avs to pull within a point of second place.
"We lost a lot of ground tonight. You look at the four-point swing (to the Blues). Now we're behind and Colorado's one point (back)," said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. "But a lot of things can change, and I'd love to move ahead and we'd love to finish first in our division. We know we have to be better and more consistent for stretches in games. For the most part, we did the right things tonight. We should've taken advantage of them."
Ben Smith and Jonathan Toews scored versus Colorado, which potted three goals in the third period to hand Chicago its third loss in four games. The Blackhawks have been held to a pair of goals or fewer in all three of those setbacks.
Corey Crawford stopped just 17-of-20 shots for the Blackhawks and will get a chance to rebound tonight. He is 9-2-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and one shutout in 11 previous meetings with the Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky is 1-0-1 in his career when facing the 'Hawks, stopping 69-of-71 shots faced for a 0.96 GAA and .972 save percentage.