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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 18th (All times Eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (21-16-7) at Los Angeles Kings (24-14-5), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets roll into Los Angeles with a five-game win streak and they'll try to boost their postseason chances with another victory in Thursday's clash at the Staples Center.
Columbus has matched its season-best winning streak by taking five straight games, including the last three after regulation. Another victory on Thursday would tie the franchise record of six straight wins from March 24-April 3, 2006.
The hot streak currently has Columbus in position to make the playoffs for just the second time in club history. The Blue Jackets have 49 points, placing them two ahead of Detroit for the eighth and final postseason berth in the West. Columbus already has played one more game than the Red Wings, who are idle on Thursday.
The Blue Jackets recorded a 3-2 overtime win in Wednesday's game at Anaheim. Fedor Tyutin scored 2:19 into the extra session to give Columbus a 3-0 record on a six-game road trip.
In the extra session, Nick Foligno danced along the left wing to get clear of a defender before chipping the puck down low for Tyutin, who got a stick on it for his fourth of the year.
"We are extremely committed," said Foligno. "That's all we talk about. We want to make the playoffs and we want to win the Stanley Cup. That's our goal from day one and this is a committed group."
Matt Calvert and Blake Comeau also scored while Sergei Bobrovsky posted 26 saves for the Blue Jackets, who are still only 8-11-2 as the road team in 2013.
With 53 points, the Kings are close to locking up their fourth straight trip to the playoffs. However, the defending Stanley Cup champions did allow San Jose to tie them for the West's fourth seed after dropping a shootout decision to the Sharks on Tuesday.
Raffi Torres potted the only goal of the shootout to lift San Jose to a 3-2 home win over the Kings at HP Pavilion. The Sharks, who host Minnesota on Thursday, entered Tuesday's game one point behind L.A. for the fourth seed.
Both L.A. and the Sharks have five games left in the regular season and are six points behind Anaheim for the Pacific Division title.
After Torres scored in the final phase, Mike Richards had a chance to extend the shootout but his quick wrister was turned away by Antti Niemi, who stopped 41 shots through regulation and overtime before turning away all three shooters in the shootout.
Jake Muzzin and Dustin Brown each scored once for Los Angeles, while Jonathan Quick posted 33 saves to help the Kings salvage a point.
"Quick is someone we don't worry about at all," said Kings forward Justin Williams of last spring's Conn Smythe winner. "He puts the most pressure on himself to perform, I think he's going to continue to improve."
The Kings are kicking off a brief two-game homestand tonight and are 16-4-1 as the host this season compared to an 8-10-4 mark on the road.
L.A. is 2-0 against the Blue Jackets this season, winning once each at home and on the road. Columbus has lost 10 of 13 overall in this series and five of seven in the City of Angels.
04/18 11:08:23 ET
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