DEVILS (30-24-7) at BLUE JACKETS (24-29-8)
TV: MSG+, FS-O
COLUMBUS - New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes said Wednesday he would split the goaltending duties for back-to-back games beginning Thursday at the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Whether he hedges on that remains to be seen, but Cory Schneider gets the start in Nationwide Arena with the Devils one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
"The plan was to split both goalies," Hynes said. "We're not sure if we're going to split both goalies or play Cory back-to-back."
New Jersey plays the Tampa Bay Lightning at Prudential Center on Friday, but Hynes has not committed to playing backup Keith Kinkaid.
"We just want to win the game we're in and put the guys in we feel will give us the best chance to win tonight and not look at this over the course of two games," Hynes said. "Keith needs to get more games. Cory is our guy but we have confidence in Keith."
Schneider has played in 51 of 61 games this season but has struggled recently against the Blue Jackets, going 0-3-1 with a 2.80 goals-against average in the past four games.
"They've been a tough matchup for us this year, last year too," Schneider said. "They have a hard working group up front, their forwards get to the net and get rebound goals on those loose pucks in the crease."
Columbus had defeated the Devils 3-1 and 2-1 this season behind goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Bobrovsky is injured so rookie Joonas Korpisalo will make his 13th start in 14 games even though Curtis McElhinney had an excellent game in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.
The Blue Jackets have two regulation losses (7-2-4) in their past 13 games and coach John Tortorella cites Korpisalo as a factor.
"We started playing with confidence when Korpisalo started playing well," Tortorella said. "That happens a lot with teams. They play off their goal. They feel more relaxed when mistakes aren't going in the net."
The resurgence has also been led by center Brandon Dubinsky, who plays his 600th NHL game Thursday. He has four goals and 12 points in his past 14 games and 20 points (7-13) in his past 23. He has 13 goals and 36 points in 54 games this season.
"It's been a fun 600," Dubinsky said. "I look forward to 600 more. I feel like I'm where I want to be and playing some of the best hockey of my career."
Dubinsky has 125 goals, 230 assists and 355 points in his NHL career. He played his first 393 games with the New York Rangers for Tortorella.
"I look at him now, married, kid," Tortorella said. "He couldn't even take care of himself back in those days in New York. Now I look at his maturity. It's pretty neat."
Here are the projected lineups
Joseph Blandisi - Adam Henrique - Lee Stempniak
Reid Boucher - Travis Zajac - Kyle Palmieri
Sergey Kalinin - Jacob Josefson - Tyler Kennedy
Tuomo Ruutu - Stephen Gionta - Jordin Tootoo
Andy Greene - Adam Larsson
John Moore - David Schlemko
Jon Merrill - Damon Severson
Injured: Michael Cammalleri (right hand), Stefan Matteau (facial fracture), Patrik Elias (right knee), Jiri Tlusty (right wrist)
Scratched: Bobby Farnham, Eric Gelinas, Seth Helgeson
Boone Jenner - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad
Matt Calvert - William Karlsson - Nick Foligno
Kerby Rychel - Gregory Campbell - Rene Bourque
Ryan Murray - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - David Savard
Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout
Injured: Sergei Bobrovsky (groin)
Scratched: Cody Goloubef, Jared Boll, David Clarkson
Status report: Boll, the longest tenured Blue Jackets player, will sit for a 15th straight game. He last played Jan. 19 against the Washington Capitals. "It's hard to sit out Boll," Tortorella said. "He's a respected guy in the room, fights. I worry about the speed of the game. Our game has changed and I think it's hurt Boll."… Clarkson, on injured reserve since Jan. 5, was activated Thursday and defenseman Justin Falk sent to Lake Erie of the American Hockey League.
Who's hot: Palmer has 3 points (2-1) in three games. … Blandisi had two assists against the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The rookie has 14 points (5-9) in 22 NHL games. … Kalinin had a goal and an assist against the Rangers. … Jenner has three goals in two games and five in five games.