Gameday Preview: Senators at Blue Jackets

This is the third and final matchup between the Senators and Blue Jackets this season. The teams have traded 4-1 victories in the first two games of the series.

Gameday Preview: Senators at Blue Jackets
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Curtis McElhinney, left, stops a shot in front of teammate Ryan Murray and Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Columbus, Ohio, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

Ottawa Senators (22-20-10)
@
Columbus Blue Jackets (26-22-4)
Nationwide Arena: 7:00 pm ET
Television: Sportsnet East

Backstory…

This is the third and final matchup between the Senators and Blue Jackets this season. The teams have traded 4-1 victories in the first two games of the series.

In each of the previous games, the visiting team won.

Ottawa won the first game on the strength of Robin Lehner’s 33-save performance. Erik Karlsson scored twice while Clarke MacArthur and Chris Neil added the others. R.J. Umberger scored Columbus’ lone goal.

Despite outshooting Columbus 30-22 in the second game, the difference in the game was the three power play goals that the Senators allowed. Ryan Johansen, Umberger, Fedor Tyutin and Derek MacKenzie tallied for the Blue Jackets while Erik Karlsson scored with less than three minutes to play in the third to break up Sergei Bobrovsky’s shutout.

Storylines…

Today’s game will feature two teams that are both coming off disappointing losses in Carolina.

A rested Senators team has not played since Saturday’s 6-4 matinee loss will be looking to take advantage of a tired Blue Jackets team that blew a two goal lead with less than ten minutes to play in the third last night.

Tonight’s game carries significant playoff implications. Only five points separate the Montreal Canadiens, the current possessor of the first wild card playoff position, from the Washington Capitals – the seventh team in the Eastern Conference’s wild card standings.

Within this five point separation sit the Senators (54 points) and the Blue Jackets (56 points).

The Senators have dropped four of their past five games and desperately need this victory to keep pace with the rest of the Eastern Conference teams vying for a wild card spot.

If it was not for the production of Kyle Turris (10 goals, 13 points) and Clarke MacArthur (7 goals, 15 points) in the team’s past 15 games, they would assuredly already be out of the playoff mix.

Craig Anderson was announced as Ottawa’s starter for tonight’s game and, judging by the line combinations from yesterday’s practice, this will be the only lineup change for the Senators.

Marian Gaborik (clavicle) and Jared Boll (ankle) will miss tonight’s game with their respective injuries. Mark Stone will miss his fourth consecutive game after injuring himself during a team practice.

Interesting Stat #1

Four of the five goals that Columbus has scored in this series have come on the power play.

Interesting Stat #2

Jason Spezza has not scored an even strength goal since Nov. 24 – a stretch of 24 games.

Interesting Stat #3

Sergei Bobrovsky has a 3-0-0 record, a 1.87 goals against average and a .928 save percentage when playing in both games on back-to-back nights this season, but it appears Curtis McElhinney will get the start.

Interesting Stat #4

Bobby Ryan was held to zero shots on goal in Saturday’s loss to the Hurricanes. It was only the third time this season in which he did not register a shot on goal.

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