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While other teams might be looking past the Columbus Blue Jackets, they refuse to count themselves out of playoff contention.
The resilient Blue Jackets look to help their postseason chances when they continue their three-game road trip against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Columbus (30-27-9) finished last month with a record of 5-5-3, leaving it third in the Central Division and in the bottom half of the Western Conference. The Blue Jackets, though, closed out February by winning three of their last four games, including a 3-2 overtime victory at Vancouver on Friday.
|Pascal Leclaire has done a lot to help keep the Blue Jackets focused on clinching a playoff spot. (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)|
"A lot of teams are writing us off right now but for us there's no point," said goaltender Pascal Leclaire, who made 21 saves. "We're not going to go down easy. We're there so might as well just try to make something out of it and prove people wrong."
Leclaire has done his part to keep Columbus focused, posting a 3-1-0 mark with a 1.96 goals-against average and a shutout in his last four starts.
On Friday, Andrew Murray and Rick Nash scored in regulation, while Jason Chimera added a goal in overtime for the Blue Jackets, who have never been to the playoffs in their seven-year history.
"We need to win if we want to make it to the postseason, so we're playing desperate," said Nash, the Blue Jackets' leader in goals (34) and points (55).
Nash has six goals and four assists in his last nine contests after having just two goals in his previous seven games.
The Blue Jackets have improved offensively of late, scoring 11 goals in their last four contests after tallying just twice in the previous two. However, they have been ineffective on the power-play, going 0-for-17 over the last six games.
They hope to improve those numbers as they look to extend their three-game road winning streak, their longest since a four-game run from Dec. 2-12, 2006.
The Blue Jackets might have a tough time reaching that mark in Edmonton (30-30-5), where they have lost eight of the last 10 meetings. They haven't fared well against the Oilers in the all-time series either, going 6-16-1 with three ties.
|Ales Hemsky leaps over Dan Cloutier and scores one of his two goals Thursday night. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jimmy Jeong)|
These teams split their first two meetings this season, with the Blue Jackets winning 4-2 at home on Dec. 31 in the most recent contest.
Columbus, though, will be playing at Rexall Place, where the Oilers have won a season-high six straight to tie a mark they set from Oct. 5-28, 2006.
The Oilers have not won that many in a row at home since an eight-game streak from Feb. 24-April 2, 1986. They are coming off of the third victory on their five-game homestand - a 5-4 win over NHL-worst Los Angeles on Thursday.
Ales Hemsky had two goals and an assist for the Oilers, who seek their first four-game win streak since Jan. 5-13.
Hemsky, who leads the Oilers with 55 points, played through an injured wrist he hurt after he landed on it following his first second-period goal.
"It's still a little better than it was a week ago," Hemsky said. "It's something that will improve after the season, but right now I jam it every game. It's just something I have to battle through."
Hemsky has five goals and 15 points in 15 career games against the Blue Jackets.
Meanwhile, Nash registered his lone hat trick of the season - the second of his career - in that December win over the Oilers.