TIME: Sunday, 7 p.m. EDT.
Based on how they're finishing up the season, the Columbus Blue Jackets probably cannot wait for training camp to open in September.
The Blue Jackets look to continue arguably the most successful stretch in franchise history when they wrap up a home-and-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
Columbus defeated Chicago 5-2 at home on Saturday for its eighth win in 11 games. David Vyborny scored twice in the third period to snap a 2-2 deadlock, and assisted on Rick Nash's goal with less than three minutes remaining.
Besides setting a new franchise record for most points in a season with 72, the Blue Jackets have records for wins (34) and goals scored (215) with two games remaining.
"It's nice breaking the record, but we're just trying to gain confidence for next year," coach Gerard Gallant said after a crowd of 16,555 gave his team a standing ovation for most of the final minute of play. "We are a much better team than 72 points."
After this contest, the Blue Jackets host Pacific Division-leading Dallas on Tuesday in the season finale.
"It's very nice to finish with the best-ever season here, especially after the bad start," Vyborny said. "We still have two more games left and we'll try our best to get 76 points."
In their first 35 games, the Blue Jackets went just 9-25-1 and were outscored 128-69. A 4-3 win over Chicago on Dec. 26 started Columbus on its first three-game winning streak of the season.
Over the last 45 contests, Columbus has gone 25-17-3 including a franchise-record six-game winning streak from March 25-April 3.
Four of those victories came against playoff-bound Calgary, Detroit, San Jose and Nashville.
Brandon Bochenski and Kyle Calder scored Saturday for Chicago, which lost its fifth straight and 12th in 15 games.
"We had our chances," Chicago coach Trent Yawney said. "When it was tied we just didn't finish our chances off and they did. Pretty simple."
Chicago failed to make the postseason for the seventh time in eight seasons, and has the league's longest championship drought since last winning the Stanley Cup in 1961.
The Blackhawks will finish its season on Tuesday against St. Louis - the only team worse than them in the Central Division.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 72 points, 3rd place, 50 PB, Central Division. Blackhawks - 61 points, 4th place, 61 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nash, 30 goals; Vyborny, 40 assists and 60 points; Jody Shelley, 155 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell and Kyle Calder, 24 goals; Calder, 32 assists and 56 points; Matthew Barnaby, 174 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 13.8 percent (61 for 441), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.8 percent (415 for 507), 17th. Blackhawks - Power play: 12.1 percent (49 for 406), 30th. Penalty killing: 83.9 percent (454 for 541), 11th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Pascal Leclaire (11-14-3, 0 SO, 3.20 GAA); Marc Denis (19-26-1, 1, 3.23). Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin (16-26-6, 0, 3.38); Craig Anderson (5-12-4, 1, 3.33).
SEASON SERIES: Blue Jackets, 5-2.
LAST MEETING: Saturday; Blue Jackets, 5-2. At Columbus, Ohio, Vyborny scored twice and assisted on Nash's 30th goal in the third period. Bochenski and Calder scored for the Blackhawks.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 12-24-4 on the road; Blackhawks - 14-19-6 at home.
|Apr 16 '06||CBJ 3 at CHI 4||K. Calder|
|Apr 15 '06||CHI 2 at CBJ 5||D. Vyborny|
|Apr 01 '06||CHI 2 at CBJ 5||J. Balastik|
|Mar 15 '06||CBJ 2 at CHI 3||K. Calder|
|Mar 07 '06||CHI 3 at CBJ 1||P. Sharp|
|Dec 30 '05||CBJ 3 at CHI 2||R. Nash|
|Dec 26 '05||CHI 3 at CBJ 4 - OT||J. Balastik|
|Oct 09 '05||CBJ 3 at CHI 2||J. Shelley|