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Game Preview: Blue Jackets at Hurricanes

Jackets hit the road for back-to-back games

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

GAME 76: BLUE JACKETS VS. HURRICANES

PNC ARENA, 7:00 P.M.

TV: FOX SPORTS OHIO / FOX SPORTS GO

RADIO: 97.1 & BLUEJACKETS.COM

The Jackets are back on the road Thursday for a game against the Carolina Hurricanes. And with just seven regular season games before the playoffs begin, the Hurricanes are not a team that the second-place Jackets can overlook.

Carolina sits just four points out of a wild card spot and is playing like a team determined to close that gap and make the postseason. The Hurricanes have earned 21 points in the month of March alone (8-2-5) and haven't lost in regulation in 12 straight games (8-0-4).

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"It's a fast team," head coach John Tortorella said. "It's a team that I think is playing with no pressure on them at all. Everyone left them for dead out there and they just kept on playing. They probably feel like an underdog and can just say 'let's take a run at this.' That type of attitude makes it easy for players to play. They are well coached and they are fast. We have our hands full when we go in there."

Video: Torts on his competitive blue line, upcoming schedule

Here are five things to watch for:

Tough challenge for special teams.

The Jackets are trying to find a way to reignite their power play and Carolina will be a tough test. In the three previous matchups between these teams, all in January, the Jackets have gone 0-10 on the power play. 

"I think about their penalty kill and the way it just swarmed us," Brandon Dubinsky said. "Especially early on in the season when our power play was really firing. Every time we went into their building or played against them it seemed like they just stuffed us right at the blue line."

Video: Dubi on facing a tough Carolina team on the road

Rookie talent.

Players like Zach Werenski, Markus Nutivaara, and Lukas Sedlak are well known rookies in Columbus, but Carolina has quite a bit of young talent too. Rookie Sebastian Aho is second only to Jeff Skinner in total points on the Hurricanes' roster. Aho is ranked third among all NHL rookies in goals scored (23) and is tied for fifth in total points (47). In the previous three games against the Jackets this year, Aho has scored twice, making him the only Carolina player to do so.

The key is three.

In 27 of the 29 games the Jackets and the Hurricanes have played against one another, and in all of the last 21, the winning team has scored three or more goals. The Jackets are currently fifth overall in the league in goals scored per game (3.11). Carolina is averaging 2.64.

Canes' home sweet home.

Carolina has been formidable on home ice this year. They've gone 21-10-5 including a 5-3 win over the Jackets on January 10. But the Jackets bring a road record of 21-9-6 this season to Thursday's game. This matchup will put both teams' records to the test.

Finish out the month right.

Thursday marks the start of another back-to-back series that will close out March for the Jackets. It's been a good month. The Jackets have gone 10-3-1 through 14 games played, marking the third time in club history that the team has earned double digit points in March. The 21 points earned thus far this month is good enough for third all-time for the franchise, and a win Thursday will move them into second place for points earned in March past the 2015 team that went 11-4-0.

PROJECTED CBJ LINEUP:

Saad - Wennberg - Foligno

Jenner - Dubinsky - Atkinson

Calvert - Karlsson - Anderson

Hartnell - Sedlak - Gagner

Werenski - Jones

Johnson - Savard

Harrington - Quincey

Korpisalo

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