NHL

more stats

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, March 28th (All times Eastern)

Pittsburgh Penguins (46-22-5) at Columbus Blue Jackets (37-29-6), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Columbus Blue Jackets hope that they are catching the Pittsburgh Penguins at the right time.

Their playoff chances may depend on it.

The Blue Jackets hope to beat the struggling Penguins for the first time in five meetings this season as the clubs square off on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus has been outscored 14-6 by Pittsburgh this season and has lost five straight and nine of the previous 11 meetings overall. That includes a four- game slide at home, where the Blue Jackets have not beaten the Pens since a shootout win on March 12, 2009.

However, the Penguins come in trying to avoid their first four-game slide of the season after a 3-2 setback to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night. The loss prevented Pittsburgh from securing a playoff spot as it needed to notch just one point.

Taylor Pyatt and Chris Kunitz scored for Pittsburgh, but Los Angeles got the winner from Drew Doughty early in the third period. Backup Jeff Zatkoff made 29 saves in the Penguins' sixth loss in eight games, though they still lead the Metropolitan Division by 11 points over the New York Rangers.

The Penguins also thought they tied the game at the 9:41 mark of the third period, but a video review showed that Pittsburgh's Brandon Sutter pushed L.A. goaltender Martin Jones' pad and the puck into the net, impeding Jones' ability to play his position.

"I was pretty surprised," Sutter said. "I just thought the puck came through the crease and I was just trying to jam away at it and it was loose the whole time. I definitely got pushed into the net and the puck went off of me somehow.

"I have no idea how they didn't call it a goal."

Having recently lost center Evgeni Malkin to a foot injury, the Penguins also saw pivot Marcel Goc exit last night's game in the final minute of the second period with a lower-body injury after he crashed into the boards following a collision.

While Pittsburgh can afford a slump given its advantage atop the division, Columbus has no such luxury. The Blue Jackets are one of four teams tied for the two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with 80 points, joined by the Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The good news for the Blue Jackets is they own one of the current tiebreakers, having played the fewest games. They have 10 games remaining on the schedule, while the Red Wings and Capitals both have nine left. The Maple Leafs have just eight contests remaining and visit the Philadelphia Flyers tonight.

The Blue Jackets could, however, be without No. 1 goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky tonight. He exited Tuesday's 4-2 victory over the Red Wings after one period due to illness and was unable to practice on Thursday.

Curtis McElhinney relieved Bobrovsky and made 22 saves versus the Red Wings, while Ryan Johansen scored twice and both Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky added goals.

"He was great, coming in a tough situation in a huge game," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards about McElhinney. "They pushed - you have to give Detroit a lot of credit for how they played. They had some opportunities and Curtis made some huge saves for us, and he looked calm. In a big, high-pressured game, he looked very calm."

The Blue Jackets had lost four of six going into Tuesday's game.

If Bobrovsky can't play tonight, Mike McKenna would serve as the backup to McElhinney, who is 0-3-0 with a 2.84 goals against average lifetime versus the Penguins.

Bobrovsky is 5-4-1 with a 3.05 GAA in his career when facing the Penguins, who are likely to start No. 1 Marc-Andre Fleury in this game. Fleury is 5-1-1 with a 2.33 GAA in his career versus the Jackets.

03/28 10:48:56 ET

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Hurricanes vs. Vancouver Canucks 2
Podcast: Canes a pleasant surprise at the break

Chuck Kaiton, voice of the Carolina Hurricanes, says the team's 16-25 record through the first half of the season has been a pleasant surprise in some ways.

Related Stories
  • ACC: Clemson at NC State

    Wednesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • HSBB: Broughton at Leesville Road

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 620am

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. Tampa Bay

    Tomorrow at 7:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: Duke at Notre Dame

    Wednesday at 7:30 pm on 620am

  • ACC: NC State vs. Clemson

    Wednesday at 9:00 pm on WRAL-FM

Scoreboard
Local
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
7:00pm Tonight
NCCU
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
SYR
 
Final
CHI 84
MIA 96
Final
CLE 108
OKC 98
Final
NOP 109
DAL 106
Final
ORL 99
IND 106
Final
PHO 100
LAC 120
Final
ATL 112
MIN 100
Final
TOR 114
DET 110
Final
SAN 101
MIL 95
Final
GSW 114
BOS 111
Final
DEN 115
WAS 117
Final
LAL 87
HOU 99
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
NYK
SAC
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
MIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
ORL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
PHI
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
BOS
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
DEN
 
Final
UCONN 66
SFLA 53
Final
GT 62
BC 64
Final
VT 47
UVA 50
Final
OSU 82
IND 70
Final
UCF 46
CIN 56
Final
WICHS 74
DRAK 40
Final
STJ 68
DUKE 77
Final
MAR 73
FAIR 67
 
Final
HART 61
MAINE 70
 
Final
MAN 71
MON 64
 
Final
PRIN 96
ROWAN 48
 
Final
SIENA 55
PETE 69
 
Final
RIU 53
BONA 48
Final
BING 54
USB 61
 
Final
MLOWELL 50
VERM 61
 
Final
BUT 77
SHU 57
Final
SALA 55
YALE 72
 
Final
PITT 68
LOU 80
Final
ILLST 53
NIOWA 54
Final
GTDNS 69
UMBC 55
 
Final
IONA 87
NIAG 64
 
Final
TENST 55
BEL 63
 
Final
NCSU 78
ND 81
Final
VILL 71
CREI 50
Final
MD 68
NW 67
Final
UTAH 77
WASH 56
7:00pm Tonight
AMER
ARMY
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
CLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCCU
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
PBY
HIGH
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNC
SYR
 
7:00pm Tonight
DET
WRST
 
7:30pm Tonight
NCAT
COPST
 
7:30pm Tonight
SCST
HAMP
 
7:30pm Tonight
COOK
HOW
 
7:30pm Tonight
NWST
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
NO
CARK
 
8:00pm Tonight
CAMP
GWEBB
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAM
MDES
 
8:00pm Tonight
INCWORD
MCNST
 
8:00pm Tonight
SAV
NORST
 
8:00pm Tonight
ABCHRIST
SHSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
LAM
STEPH
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
TAMCC
 
8:05pm Tonight
VALPO
UWMIL
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAAM
ALCOR
 
8:30pm Tonight
ALAST
SOUTH
 
9:00pm Tonight
ARKPB
PVU
 
9:00pm Tonight
ISU
TEX
 
9:00pm Tonight
MVSU
TXSOU
 
Final
TEAMFOLI 12
TEAMTOEWS 17
Final
CARTER 28
IRVIN 32