NHL Extras
More NHL
NHL Odds
More Hockey
NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, April 8th (All times eastern)

Columbus Blue Jackets (40-29-10) at Chicago Blackhawks (44-24-11), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets will try to clinch the first postseason berth in franchise history when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks for tonight's Central Division battle at the United Center.

With 90 points and three games left, the Blue Jackets are currently sixth in the Western Conference and need just one more point to book a trip to the postseason for the first time. Columbus, which entered the league for the 2000-01 season, is two points ahead of Anaheim for playoff seeding and will get to use a game in hand over the Ducks tonight.

The Blue Jackets have dropped two straight, but have recorded a point in three straight games with an 0-1-2 record over that stretch. Columbus was handed a 1-0 overtime setback its last time out, as it lost to visiting Chicago on Sunday. This does not constitute a home-and-home series, however, because the Blackhawks played in Nashville on Tuesday.

Chicago has taken three of five meetings with the Blue Jackets this year and tonight marks the final matchup of the regular season. The Blackhawks have won six of nine overall in the series and Columbus has lost three of five and four of its last seven in the Windy City.

Kris Versteeg scored the only goal in Chicago's win in Columbus on Friday, as he tallied on a breakaway with 1:50 remaining in overtime. In the extra session, Columbus captain Rick Nash carried the puck into the Chicago zone, but Andrew Ladd broke up the play and feathered a pass to Versteeg, who skated in alone on Steve Mason and beat the rookie netminder on the stick side.

Mason finished with 24 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have also lost five of their last seven tests.

The Blue Jackets will complete their road schedule Friday in St. Louis before completing their regular season with Saturday's home tilt against Minnesota. Columbus is just 15-17-7 as the visiting team this season.

Chicago, meanwhile, has already clinched a playoff berth and is trying to secure the fourth seed, which would give the Blackhawks home-ice advantage in the first round. The Blackhawks, who have 99 points and are three ahead of Vancouver, can lock up the fourth spot with a win tonight.

The Blackhawks won their fourth consecutive game Tuesday night, defeating the Nashville Predators, 4-2, in the Music City. Jonathan Toews ignited a three- goal surge in the second period and Nikolai Khabibulin was strong with 22 saves to lead Chicago to the win, which aided Columbus' playoff chances.

Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane also scored in the decisive second period for Chicago.

The Blackhawks are 23-9-7 as the host this year and are playing their penultimate home game of the season. Chicago will close the season with a home-and-home series against Detroit, as they'll visit the Red Wings on Saturday before closing the regular season with Sunday's home test.

04/08 10:45:02 ET

NHL News
· Red Wings sign Tatar to 3-year deal

· Blue Jackets re-sign Tyrell

· Blueshirts avoid arbitration with Brassard

More News