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Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets game preview: Corey Crawford returns

Chicago goes for their 14th consecutive win over Columbus.

Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Blackhawks' starting goaltender Corey Crawford returns to action to face former teammate Jeremy Morin and the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Crawford missed the past eight games with a left-foot injury, though Chicago did go 7-1-0 over that span. The return of the 29-year-old netminder can only further help the red-hot Blackhawks cause as he has gone 12-5-1 this season with a 1.87 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Chicago has won 13 straight over Columbus since a loss in Oct. 2010, and has come away victorious in nine consecutive trips to the Buckeye State.

Crawford is 10-2-0 with a 1.82 GAA and .942 save percentage in 12 career outings against the Blue Jackets. Saturday will mark his first start since Nov. 29.

Morin was traded less than a week ago for defenseman Tim Erixon and he registered his first point on an assist in Thursday's game for Columbus. He was scoreless in 15 games with Chicago this season and struggled to crack the Blackhawk's roster given the team's depth at forward.

The Blackhawks have won 10 of their last 11 games after a 5-3 victory Tuesday over the Minnesota Wild. Patrick Kane scored the game-winner on a late power-play goal. Kane, Brett Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each had a goal and two assists, while Ben Smith scored an empty-netter and contributed an assist. Marian Hossa also scored and Antti Raanta made 26 saves.

Two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith missed the game due to an illness. He did return to practice on Friday and skated in Saturday's morning skate.

Opponent Breakdown: Columbus Blue Jackets

Columbus was among the hottest teams in the league in December, but had a seven-game win streak snapped with a 5-4 overtime loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals on Thursday. It was the Blue Jackets first loss since Nov. 29.

Despite their recent form this month, Columbus still sits in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division.

Michael Chaput's first NHL career goal gave the Blue Jackets a 4-3 lead with less than five minutes in regulation, but Troy Brouwer sent the game to overtime before Eric Fehr netted the winner 42 seconds into extra time.

It also marked the fifth straight game the Blue Jackets has gone to either overtime or a shootout.

Nick Foligno scored twice - including the 100th of his career - and assisted on Jack Johnson's power-play goal. Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves in the loss.

Bobrovsky started every contest during their seven-game streak and posted a 1.71 GAA and .921 save percentage. In four career starts against Chicago, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner is 1-2-1 with a 2.75 GAA and .921 save percentage.

Columbus' forwards have struggled to stay healthy this season with Scott Hartnell, Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu and Nathan Horton all currently out of the lineup. Left winger Nick Folingno has been an offensive spark plug in their absence, scoring 16 goals and 30 points, including five goals and two assists over the past five games. Ryan Johansen trails Folingno by two points for the team lead with nine goals and 19 assists.

Things got worse for Columbus on Saturday morning when they announced forward Boone Jenner will miss one to two months with a stress fracture in his back. The 21-year-old has posted six goals and six assists in 20 games this season. Sean Collins was recalled from the AHL's Springfield Falcons. The move likely means Morin will see time on the power-play.

The Blue Jackets boast the league's sixth-best power-play at 23.5 percent, while their penalty kill is in the bottom third of the league at 78.4 percent.

Injury Report

Chicago: Trevor van Riemsdyk (knee)

Columbus: Brian Gibbons (knee), Scott Hartnell (finger), Artem Anisimov (tricep), Ryan Murray (knee), Mark Letestu (groin), Nathan Horton (back) and Boone Jenner (back).

Game Information

When: 6 p.m. CT

Where: Nationwide Arena


Radio: WGN-720

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