Preview: New Jersey at Columbus
When: 7:00 PM ET, Thursday, February 25, 2016
Where: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
The Columbus Blue Jackets are buried in last place in the Metropolitan Division but they have been anything but an easy matchup for the New Jersey Devils. The Blue Jackets own a pair of victories over the Devils – both at New Jersey – and look to make it three in a row when the teams square off Thursday night in Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are 7-2-3 in their last 12 games after dropping a 2-1 shootout decision at Detroit, the fifth time in nine games they have gone beyond regulation. Columbus has won four straight against the Devils, permitting a total of six goals in that span. New Jersey halted a three-game skid, erupting for the final four goals in a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night. “You can see where we are in the standings,” Devils forward Lee Stempniak said. “Losing three games, it’s tough to keep pace with teams. To not get points in three straight, you are going to fall behind.”
TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG-Plus (New Jersey), FSN Ohio (Columbus)
ABOUT THE DEVILS (30-24-7): Rookie forward Sergey Kalinin, who was held off the scoresheet in 11 consecutive games and had not tallied since Dec. 22, scored one goal, set up another and was involved in his first career fight in the win over the Rangers. “I think tonight was an exceptional game for him,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. “I think we always saw the potential in him.” Goaltender Cory Schneider matched his career high with his 26th victory, but he may not start Thursday with the Devils facing a back-to-back versus Columbus and Tampa Bay.
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (24-29-8): Rookie goaltender Joonas Korpisalo had his string of 12 straight starts come to an end, giving way to Curtis McElhinney, who made his first start since sustaining a high ankle sprain on Jan. 2. “It’s been a great process for (Korpisalo) to continue to grow, to handle the ups and downs,” Columbus coach John Tortorella said. “He’s had a really good mental stiffness about him in that position, which is such a tough position. He just looks a little tired to me.” Boone Jenner has scored five goals in his last five games.
1. The Devils have scored 11 power-play goals in 11 games this month.
2. McElhinney is 3-1-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average versus New Jersey.
3. Hynes said F Michael Cammalleri (hand), sidelined since Jan. 26, will not return this week.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 3, Devils 2