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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 18th (All times Eastern)
Carolina Hurricanes (29-30-9) at Columbus Blue Jackets (35-26-6), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - While the Columbus Blue Jackets are continuing a strong push for their second ever playoff berth, the Carolina Hurricanes are fading towards a fifth straight spring without postseason hockey.
The Blue Jackets look to stay in third place in the Metropolitan Division on Tuesday night and deal the Hurricanes' playoff chances another blow.
Columbus, of course, has only made the postseason once since becoming an NHL franchise ahead of the 2000-01 season, with the franchise getting swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs.
However, the Blue Jackets are currently tied for third in their division with the New York Rangers and have two games in hand. New York is also in action tonight as the clubs are racing for one of the automatic playoff bids handed to the top three teams in each division.
On the other hand, Carolina is nine points behind the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to a loss in nine of its last 12 games.
Columbus is 6-1-1 in its past eight games and rallied in the shootout to top the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Saturday.
The Blue Jackets trailed 2-0 in the tiebreaker, but got goals from Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu to force a fourth round. Sergei Bobrovsky then came up with a stop on Matt Moulson and Ryan Johansen won it as the next skater on a backhander.
Minnesota rookie goalie Darcy Kuemper tried to disrupt the attempt with a poke check, but Johansen pulled the puck to the backhand and sent it into the net, though the goal was originally waived off before getting overturned following a video review when it was ruled Kuemper did not touch the puck.
"I guess they thought maybe the puck hit the goalie's stick for a second. I guess it was my stick that hit his stick and just found a way to get it in there. Happy they called it a goal," Johansen said.
Bobrovsky made 32 saves for Columbus, capping an excellent week that saw him get the named the NHL's First Star on Monday. He went 2-0-1 with a 1.58 goals against average in three games and is 18-5-2 with a 2.13 GAA in his past 25 games.
Bobrovsky is 5-2-0 lifetime versus the Hurricanes with a 1.87 GAA.
Carolina has been held to one goal in back-to-back losses and is coming off a 2-1 setback to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. Jordan Staal scored with 17.2 seconds left in the first period to tie the game, but the Oilers eventually went ahead on a power-play goal in the third.
Staal pushed his point streak to six straight games (3 goals, 6 assists), while Anton Khudobin made 31 saves in a tough-luck defeat.
"We just didn't finish. We had several good scoring chances," said Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller. "The puck was on the right guys' sticks, but we were only able to score one goal. We had a lot of opportunities to capitalize and we didn't."
The Hurricanes played without forward Jiri Tlusty due to a lower-body injury and he is not expected to play tonight, while forward Radek Dvorak left Sunday's game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Khudobin is 1-1-0 with a 2.50 GAA in two previous meetings with the Blue Jackets, while Cam Ward is 0-4-0 against them with a 3.73 GAA.
Khudobin's victory over the Blue Jackets came with a 22-save effort on Jan. 27 in a positive 3-2 decision at home that snapped a seven-game series losing streak.
The Blue Jackets have still won four straight over the 'Canes in Columbus and are 5-2-0 all-time in this series at home.
03/18 10:50:32 ET
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