The Columbus Blue Jackets welcome their division rival Pittsburgh Penguins to Nationwide Arena for the last game of their season series.
40–23–6 (86 points)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – THURSDAY, MARCH 10
PPG PAINTS ARENA
FOX SPORTS OHIO
FOX SPORTS GO
The Blue Jackets are 1-1-1 against the Penguins this season with two of those games being blowouts and the other a 1-0 overtime loss coming just before Columbus went on their tear through December and January. While the Jackets have sputtered recently, the club seems to have gained some confidence on their road trip through western Canada and while they may not have had the same experience they did last season - they will be looking for the same outcome.
Despite the Carolina Hurricanes' victory on Tuesday, the Jackets still sit in the second wild card spot, but their position is precarious. One wrong step and they could fall back out of the running and with the limited amount of skill currently available to the club, they cannot afford any missteps.
Columbus already requires help due to having played two more games than Carolina - who now sit above the Jackets - and the New York Islanders - who are only one point behind them in the standings. Both the Hurricanes and Islanders will look to capitalize on any weakness shown by the Jackets as the playoffs approach.
The Penguins defeated the Devils on Tuesday to pad their third-place lead in the Metro Division and continue to prove they are a force to be reckoned with as the season comes to a close. Pittsburgh is still in a position to make a play for first in the Metro and putting another game over the Jackets would not only strengthen their standing but would further cement their dominance over the club.
Here's a look at tonight's projected lines for the Blue Jackets:
- Who starts? Elvis Merzlikins picked up his first victory in his first start since returning from injury, while Joonas Korpisalo is 2-2-1 in his last five games since returning from his injury. Both are solid options for the Jackets, but Merzlikins may have the upper hand right now.
- Atkinson is back. Cam Atkinson practiced with the team yesterday and then confirmed he will be in the line-up tonight. His return will give the Jackets a weapon on offense they have sorely missed since Bjorkstrand went down and will give the club energy as the chase for the playoffs continue.
- Been here before. The Jackets were in this exact position last season, but unfortunately, they do not have the same amount of talent as they did last season. They will have to rely on networking their opponent for sixty minutes, controlling the play, and a bit of puck luck to push them through.