The Columbus Blue Jackets have never reached the playoffs, but some recent success has them pushing for their first berth.
Looking to move up in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets go for their fourth straight win against the NHL-leading Detroit Red Wings when they meet for the second time this week on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Columbus (33-29-11) is making a late charge to change to end its playoff drought, winning three of its last four to move within seven points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with nine games left.
Backup goaltender Fredrik Norrena led the Blue Jackets to their most recent victory, making 18 saves for his first shutout this season in a 3-0 home win over Calgary on Tuesday. Manny Malhotra scored twice, and Rick Nash contributed a goal and two assists for Columbus.
"The guys stuck to the game plan," said Nash, who has two goals and six assists during a four-game point streak. "We played defense first. It just shows what we're capable of when we play the right way."
|The Columbus Blue Jackets will seek to defeat the Red Wings for the fourth consecutive time when the two teams face off in Detroit tonight. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Norrena guided the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 home victory over Detroit (47-20-6) on Sunday. He made a career-high 43 saves starting in place of Pascal Leclaire, who suffered a concussion in warmups. Leclaire, the NHL co-leader with nine shutouts, is expected to miss this game.
"(Tuesday), the posts helped me and the team helped me," said Norrena, who is 4-4-0 with a 3.06 goals-against average in 10 games against Detroit. "This was a different game then the last game against Detroit. Tonight we controlled the game and deserved to win."
Norrena will likely get the chance to help Columbus to its first three-game winning streak since a four-game run from Jan. 11-17.
The Blue Jackets improved to 3-1-1 against the Red Wings this season with Sunday's win. Columbus has taken each of the last three meetings overall, but now will play in Detroit, where they are just 5-13-2 all-time.
Detroit has won four of its last five at home, and its 25 wins there tie it with Anaheim for most in the NHL.
The Red Wings' latest loss to the Blue Jackets was their second straight after a five-game winning streak. Johan Franzen scored two power-play goals, while Henrik Zetterberg contributed two assists for Detroit, which has already clinched its 17th straight playoff berth and the Central Division title.
"It's a game of mistakes, but they capitalized on every opportunity," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We had every opportunity to score a bunch but they found a way to get some saves."
Dominik Hasek returned after a two-game absence due to a sore back, but was chased after stopping six of 10 shots in less than 32 minutes. Chris Osgood then made seven saves for the Red Wings, who have a five-point lead over San Jose for the best record in the West.
It's unknown who will start against Columbus. Osgood is 12-6-3 with a shutout and a 2.36 GAA in 23 games, while Hasek is 7-3-0 with two shutouts and a 2.04 GAA in 11 career contests.
Franzen, who has eight goals and three assists during a seven-game point streak. He has five tallies and an assist in 21 contests versus Columbus.