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

finish it.”

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.