After posting wins over division rivals in their last two games, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a chance to make it four in a row if they can sweep a home-and-home series starting Sunday at Nationwide Arena against the St. Louis Blues.
The Blue Jackets (30-37-7) have already have been eliminated from playoff contention for the sixth time in their six seasons of existence, but have played better recently, winning two straight games and six of 10 this month. The two most recent victories came against Central Division rivals - 5-2 over Chicago on Tuesday followed by a 2-1 shootout win Thursday at the playoff-bound Detroit Red Wings.
Defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen scored the second goal of his career late in the third period to send the game to overtime, before former Detroit center Sergei Fedorov scored the game-winner in the third round of the shootout.
"After the game it's sad, before the game it's exciting. It's not an easy building for me to play personally," said Fedorov of playing at Joe Louis Arena. "I'm just happy we battled hard and got two points."
Fedorov has 74 points - his second-most versus any opponent - in 80 career games against the Blues. He has two goals and three assists in five games against them this season.
The Blue Jackets, who need five wins to match last season's club-record 35 victories, are trying to avoid finishing at the bottom of the Central Division after finishing third in 2005-06. They lead the Blackhawks by four points with eight games left - five of which are against division rivals.
St. Louis (31-31-12) has won all three of its visits to Columbus this season, and four of six games in the series overall - three of the wins coming in shootouts. The teams conclude their season series Tuesday in St. Louis.
The Blues, who are virtually certain to miss their second consecutive postseason, avoided a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 shootout win over Detroit on Saturday - only their second victory in seven games.
St. Louis squandered an early 2-0 lead, but won when a replay review gave Doug Weight the only goal of the shootout.
Referee Dan Marouelli originally signaled no goal on Weight's shot, but a replay showed Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek sliding backward toward the goal line with the puck finding its way into the net.
"I got a lot on it, and the progression of his body is the rule," said Weight, who has four assists in six games against Columbus this season. "He has to stop with possession of the puck before it goes into the goal line. It's a tough thing for a goaltender. He was moving. As he stopped, the puck was rolling in. I was watching it."
- Associated Press