BLUE JACKETS (19-24-9) at BRUINS (23-17-8)
: Columbus 4-6-0, Boston 4-5-1.
: The usual one-timer between East and West teams, they last met on March 10, 2009, when both were in very different positions, the Jackets in a late-season run to the playoffs, the Bruins leading the Eastern Conference.
and Tim Thomas
kept each other's teams off the board until Raffi Torres scored 6:35 into the third period, quite possibly taking advantage of Thomas' broken mask, the result of a collision minutes earlier. A 2-0 win for the Jackets kept them chugging along to their first-ever playoff berth.
: The Bruins want to snap a three-game home losing streak and get some payback from the Senators, but they have to play this game first. The Blue Jackets have picked things up the last three games, but it hasn't translated into wins yet.
: With 13 goals in the last three games, the offense is definitely back on track. Unfortunately, they only have one win to show for it. As has been the case all year, there's been difficulty reaching that delicate balance between creating scoring chances without allowing a lot of them.
After getting shut out in Chicago last Thursday, they took a 4-3 lead into the third period in the back end of the home-and-home, but the Blackhawks scored three times to win 6-5. They bounced back by beating the Blues at home, but couldn't string together another win in Philadelphia.
Two goals by former Flyers forward R.J. Umberger
got Columbus a lead, but once again three unanswered goals put the game out of reach and the Flyers skated away with a 5-3 win.
: There's no such thing as a trap game when you're a mere three points ahead of the ninth-seeded Flyers and Thrashers and two behind the fifth-seeded Senators, to whom they lost 5-1 on Monday and have another shot at on Saturday.
"We have to deal with Columbus first and then get ready to beat these guys (Ottawa) on Saturday," backup goaltender Tuukka Rask
Forward Shawn Thornton
pointed back to the Bruins' recent West Coast trip show the team has more to give when it counts.
"We played maybe the best team in the League with San Jose and we played a great game," he said. "And I thought we played pretty well against Anaheim except for a couple mistakes."
: Umberger has five points in his last three games, while captain Rick Nash
is officially out of his slump with four goals in his last three games.
: More bad news came out of Tuesday's practice as Marco Sturm left the ice with an undisclosed injury and didn't return.
"That wasn’t planned," Julien said. "So is he questionable for tomorrow? Yes."
Forwards Steve Begin and Byron Bitz remained off the ice as well.
Columbus defenseman Mike Commodore (leg) was scratched for Tuesday's game and remains questionable for Thursday.
: Mason has been announced as Thursday's starter, and he'll likely be paired against Thomas again. The two finished in the top two spots for the Vezina Trophy last year, but Mason has experienced a huge dropoff this year, going 11-16-6 with a 3.32 GAA and losing the starting job to Mathieu Garon.
: "You can talk about it, but I think in this room there’s been enough talk. We need to just go out and everyone needs to bring their best every night because, no excuses, but we’re missing a lot of good players, so we need the best from everyone to make it happen." -- Bruins forward Shawn Thornton