BLUE JACKETS (31-27-9) at HURRICANES (31-27-10)
TV: FS-O (HD), FS-CR (HD)
Columbus 3-4-3; Carolina 4-4-2
This is the only meeting of the 2010-11 season between these teams. In their most recent matchup, the Blue Jackets scored three goals in the first 3:31 of the third period to claim a 3-2 win over the Hurricanes in Columbus on Nov. 7, 2009.
There's no debating it will take more points to make the playoffs in the Western Conference this season when you consider the Hurricanes come in leading the Blue Jackets by only one point in the overall NHL standings, yet Carolina is only two points out of eighth in the East while Columbus sits 10 points off the pace.
Time is running out for Columbus to make a run -- the Blue Jackets have lost seven in a row and need to make up six points just to catch the 11th-place Wild. Most of the teams they play these days are also desperate for points, and on Friday they couldn't match the intensity of the Kings in a 4-2 defeat on home ice. Anze Kopitar's hat trick led Los Angeles, and while Columbus closed to within a goal when Derick Brassard
scored midway through the third, a late Justin Williams tally sealed it for the visitors.
"It has been a tough stretch, but we're not going to fold our cards," captain Rick Nash
told the Columbus Dispatch. "Anything can happen. … The mindset is just win one. Get that one out of the way, and maybe it'll get us going."
There's no time to cry over spilled milk, and Carolina gets right back on the ice one night after a tough 2-1 loss to Southeast-leading Washington. The Hurricanes drew first blood when Tuomo Ruutu
scored with 35.1 seconds left in the middle period, but Alex Ovechkin erased that lead in the opening minute of the third. The decisive goal came after Cam Ward
denied Jason Arnott on a breakaway, but Matt Hendricks skated in and chipped home the rebound.
"They had chances, we had chances -- I like the way we played overall," coach Paul Maurice said. "We put up 40-some odd shots and couldn't find the handle around the net a little bit. We were much more assertive in our game tonight that we have been. We'd like to get a better result."
Nash has 4 assists in his last three games and had eight of the Blue Jackets' 34 shots on Friday. … Cory Stillman has 2 goals and 4 assists in seven games since the Hurricanes reacquired him from the Panthers at the trade deadline.
Columbus forward Andrew Murray is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Anton Stralman is sidelined with a knee injury. Forward Kristian Huselius
(lower body) is on injured reserve.
Nash is one goal shy of reaching 30 for the seventh straight season and one point away from reaching 60 for the fourth straight season. … The Hurricanes had won all 21 games this season when they led after two periods until the Capitals rallied Friday.
Carolina put 41 shots on Washington rookie Braden Holtby and had a late goal by Jay Harrison
that would have tied the score disallowed because the official had already blown his whistle. So the loss was hardly from a lack of trying.
"I thought we had enough chances to score more goals than one," Ruutu said. "I didn't think we played a bad game, we just didn't finish it."