BLUE JACKETS (18-19-4) at BLUES (28-7-5)
TV: FS-O, FS-MW
Last 10: Columbus 5-4-1; St. Louis 7-1-2
Blue Notes: Brian Elliott will start in goal and is 11-1-2 this season with a 1.84 GAA and a .928 save percentage. He is looking for his 13th consecutive regular season win at home. T.J. Oshie has scored goals in three consecutive games. Jaden Schwartz has points in seven straight, which ties a career high. The Blues have won four of the last five games against Columbus. Against the Eastern Conference, the Blues have the League's best inter-conference record since 2010-11 (36-9-6).
Season series: This is the second and final game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues this season. David Backes' overtime goal lifted St. Louis to a 4-3 win on Dec. 14 at Nationwide Arena.
Big story: It was a long time coming, but right wing Nathan Horton made his Blue Jackets debut Thursday night and scored in a 2-0 victory against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
Horton signed a seven-year contract with Columbus last summer, but missed the first 40 games of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
"Sometimes I felt good, sometimes I felt bad. It's been a long time but I was playing and we won and that's all that matters," Horton said. "You can tell we're a good team when we work hard.
"It was nice to get hit a couple of times and hit someone, it made me feel more comfortable on the ice. We have a great structure, [Todd Richards] is a great coach and if we do what he asks I think we'll be in good shape."
Blue Jackets: Horton wasn't the only Columbus player who impressed Thursday. Goalie Curtis McElhinney responded after allowing five goals in back-to-back starts by stopping all 34 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season. Twenty-one of those saves came in the third period.
"It felt great," McElhinney said. "Obviously I had been in a tough couple of games the last few, but this was a tremendous game by us. The penalty kill did a great job when we were put in that situation. Just a nice overall feeling for everybody."
Blues: St. Louis announced Friday it has activated defenseman Jordan Leopold off injured reserve. Leopold has missed the past 26 games with a ligament injury in his right hand. He underwent surgery in mid-November.
Leopold rejoins a team that has won four straight games; the Blues extended their streak with a 5-0 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at Scottrade Center on Thursday night. T.J. Oshie, who was named to the U.S. Olympic team on Wednesday, had two goals and Brian Elliott stopped all 30 shots he faced.
Oshie was the recipient of a "USA, USA" chant from the capacity crowd after his second goal of the game.
"I thought that was pretty special," Oshie said. "I definitely didn't expect it, but once I heard it, I thought, 'What a cool 24 hours for me.'"
Who's hot: Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger has three points (one goal, two assists) in the past two games. … Oshie has four goals and an assist in the past three games for the Blues. Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has four assists in the past four games. Elliott has allowed two or fewer goals in each of his past five starts.
Injury report: Columbus forwards Marian Gaborik (collarbone), Matt Calvert (shoulder), Jared Boll (ankle) and Oliver Gabriel (torn Achilles tendon) are on injured reserve. Forward Jack Skille is also likely to miss the game Saturday due to an upper-body injury sustained during a 5-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. … Blues forward David Backes (upper body) is questionable. Forward Alexander Steen (concussion) and defenseman Roman Polak (ankle) are out indefinitely.
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