NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, April 11th
(All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (42-31-7) at Tampa Bay Lightning (44-27-9), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Fresh off clinching the second postseason berth in
franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets will try to improve their playoff
position when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
The Blue Jackets entered the league as an expansion club for the 2000-01
season, but didn't make their first postseason appearance until 2009 when they
were swept in the first round by Detroit. It took five years to get back to
the playoffs, but Columbus made it official with a win Wednesday in Dallas.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 shots -- including 17 in the third period -- as
the Blue Jackets locked up a playoff spot thanks to a 3-1 victory over the
Stars in the replay of a suspended game from American Airlines Center.
"It's a huge step for our organization. And to me, it's just a step. But we're
ready to take the next one," said Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards, whose
club also set a new team record with a 42nd win this season.
The original matchup, begun on March 10, was ended after almost 6 1/2 minutes
elapsed in the first period when Stars forward Rich Peverley suffered a
cardiac episode on the bench.
Wednesday's game was replayed from the start, but the visitors were allowed to
keep their 1-0 lead, thanks to a Nathan Horton goal. Horton, however, didn't
play Wednesday due to a lower-body injury and he expects to sit out again
Once play resumed, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu lit the lamp for the Blue
Jackets, who have won three in a row and can still catch Philadelphia for
third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Columbus is tied with the Flyers in points at 91, but Philly owns the current
tiebreaker thanks to owning one more non-shootout victory. Like Columbus, the
Flyers have two games left in the regular season, but Philadelphia is idle on
The Blue Jackets also are tied with Detroit for the first wild card spot in
the East. Detroit is playing Friday against visiting Carolina before capping
its regular season Sunday in St. Louis. Columbus cannot catch the Red Wings in
Wednesday's game kicked off a three-game road trip that will complete
Columbus' regular-season schedule. The club is 20-16-3 as the visiting team
and will finish the campaign Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
Tampa Bay also has qualified for the playoffs and will play the Montreal
Canadiens in the opening round. However, home-ice advantage for that best-of-
seven series is still up in the air, but the Lightning control their own
destiny in the race for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Montreal lost in regulation to the visiting New York Islanders on Thursday and
is only one point ahead of the Lightning for second place with one game left
on its schedule. If Tampa can win its final two games of the regular season it
will open the first-round series versus the Habs on home ice.
Columbus is 2-0 against the Lightning this season after entering 2013-14 on a
three-game slide in this series. However, Tampa is 6-1-0 in the seven all-time
meetings in Central Florida.
04/11 10:44:27 ET