NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 29th
(All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (37-30-6) at Carolina Hurricanes (32-32-9), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets still have an inside track on
just the second playoff berth in franchise history, but a victory over the
Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night would still go a long way in restoring
The Blue Jackets have lost three of four and five of their past eight (3-4-1)
as the club has failed to pull away from a tight pack battling for the two
wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus is one of four teams tied for the playoff bids with 80 points, joined
by the Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs. The
Blue Jackets, Red Wings and Capitals all own tiebreakers over the Maple Leafs,
who have played two more games than all three clubs.
Columbus, meanwhile, is currently holding the first of two wild card spots
thanks to four more non-shootout wins over Detroit and seven more than the
Saturday marks the Blue Jackets' second straight night in action as they lost
a 2-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday. James Wisniewski had
Columbus' lone goal and Curtis McElhinney kept his team in it by making 29
saves in his first start since Jan. 28.
"They were just throwing pucks from bad angles and getting it on net every
chance they had," said McElhinney. "You know, it's a simple game sometimes and
it's just a matter of getting the right bounces."
McElhinney got the call as Sergei Bobrovsky was still recovering from illness
that forced him out of Tuesday's win over the Red Wings early. Mike McKenna
backed up McElhinney last night, but Bobrovsky was able to make the trip to
Carolina as his status remains unknown.
Bobrovsky is 5-3-0 with a 2.10 goals against average in his career versus the
Hurricanes, while McElhinney is 0-2-0 with a 4.41 GAA in this matchup.
Carolina sits seven points out of a wild card spot with nine games to play and
had lost four of six before a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Jiri Tlusty scored twice and Anton Khudobin made 35 saves in his first shutout
of the season and third of his career.
Jeff Skinner scored Carolina's other goal, while Khudobin capped his effort
with a 12-save third period.
"It's always good when you didn't get scored on in a game obviously," Khudobin
said. "We just got the (win), that's the most important thing."
Khudobin helped keep the Panthers off the scoreboard despite the opponent
getting plenty of power-play time after Carolina's Radek Dvorak was assessed a
charging major and game misconduct for running into Panthers goaltender
Roberto Luongo late in the first period.
"I made the shot and then like I said I was driving like 100 miles per hour to
the net and then I got a little push and then next thing I knew I was in the
net with (Luongo)," Dvorak recalled. "It was not intentional at all. That's
not my style."
Khudobin's efforts may have earned him another start tonight over Cam Ward and
the former is 2-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA in his career against the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets won their first two meetings this season with the Hurricanes
to run their series winning streak to seven straight, but Carolina has
responded with back-to-back wins.
The 'Canes' 3-2 victory on Jan. 27 snapped a three-game series home losing
03/29 10:37:54 ET