Blue Jackets host Red Wings in crucial East battle

( - The Columbus Blue Jackets are by no means out of contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but that moment could come sooner rather than later if they can't find a way to get their power play on track.

The Blue Jackets try to avoid a third straight loss on Tuesday night as they host the Detroit Red Wings in a matchup of wild card hopefuls.


Columbus has lost two in a row for the first time this month and its three defeats in four games has the club just on the outside of the playoff picture with 78 points. That is one point behind the ninth-place Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference standings and two behind Detroit and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are tied for the two wild card positions.

The Blue Jackets have not scored a power-play goal in their past 10 games, going 0-for-35 in that span. They failed on all six chances with the man advantage in Sunday's 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders.

Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 30-of-32 shots for the Blue Jackets.

"It's hard this time of year to get that intensity level up every single night," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We didn't have it at a high enough level tonight, and we ended up paying for it.


"It's really disappointing. We had an opportunity to help ourselves, but we didn't take that opportunity."

Detroit has taken advantage of its opportunities with a point in four straight games. The Red Wings picked up a third straight victory when they won in Minnesota on Saturday, then notched another point in a 4-3 setback to the Wild to wrap a home-and-home set the following day.

Gustav Nyquist continued his scoring barrage with a pair of goals, upping his team-leading total to 23. He has seven goals in his last five contests and 18 over the last 23 games.

Tomas Tatar recorded a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard came up with 21 saves.

"It's always gonna be disappointing when you lose a game now at this time of year," Nyquist said. "We're in real need of points with all of the teams battling for the playoffs."

The Blue Jackets and Red Wings have split the first two of three meetings this season, with each club picking up a victory at home. Columbus' 4-1 triumph on March 11 was its third in a row at home over Detroit and improved it to 6-1-1 in the last eight matchups of this series.


Boone Jenner and Brandon Dubinsky scored 40 seconds apart midway through the third period of the victory in Ohio, while Bobrovsky made 39 saves. Howard did not play due to the flu.

Bobrovsky is 4-2-1 with a 1.97 goals against average in his career versus the Red Wings, while Howard is 10-3-2 with a 2.00 GAA lifetime when facing the Blue Jackets.

Detroit is likely to have forward Todd Bertuzzi back in the lineup tonight after he sat out Sunday's game with flu-like symptoms.


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