Blue Jackets-Hurricanes Preview
Earlier this month, it seemed as if the Carolina Hurricanes may
make a push toward an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
The last three games have suggested otherwise.
With time running short, the Hurricanes will try to avoid losing
their fourth straight game Saturday night when they face the woeful
Columbus Blue Jackets.
After dropping three of four to finish February, Carolina
(31-27-10) claimed victories in their first two games this month to
climb into seventh in the East. The Hurricanes are 0-2-1 since and
have fallen to ninth.
However, they’re just two points behind the New York Rangers,
but will need to produce more offense than in their game at red-hot
Washington on Friday.
Tuomo Ruutu scored in the opening minute of the second period,
but Carolina gave up goals to Alex Ovechkin and Matt Hendricks in
the third for a 2-1 loss.
“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
While Carolina’s ill-timed slump has consumed much of the past
week, the Blue Jackets (31-27-9) have labored for the last two.
Columbus suffered its seventh consecutive loss Friday, 4-2 to
visiting Los Angeles.
The Blue Jackets got within one on Derick Brassard’s goal midway
through the third period, but couldn’t tie the game.
“We put the big push on at the end and had some chances,” coach
Scott Arniel said. “Brass had that great opportunity at the end. We
couldn’t find a way to get it tied up.”
Columbus has been outscored 24-17 during the 0-4-3 slump, its
longest since a franchise-worst nine consecutive losses in December
The Blue Jackets, though, have won three straight over the
Hurricanes, including 3-2 last season at Nationwide Arena. Rick
Nash scored the final of three third-period goals in that game, and
had three assists in a 5-1 victory at the RBC Center on Feb. 14,
Columbus’ captain has three goals and four assists over his last
five matchups with Carolina. He might add to that total as the
Hurricanes’ Cam Ward has struggled in three career matchups, going
0-2-0 with a 3.91 goals-against average.
Ward, though, is 3-1-1 with a 2.20 GAA in his past five starts.
Columbus’ Steve Mason is 0-3-2 with a 3.58 GAA in his last
Mason, however, is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA in his career against
Carolina, and Mathieu Garon is 1-2-0 with a 3.14 GAA.
Whoever starts could use more help with killing penalties. The
Blue Jackets have allowed opponents to convert six of 21 power
plays over the last five games. The Hurricanes, though, are 2 for
40 with the man advantage over the past 12 contests.