Preview: Blue Jackets at Senators
With a playoff berth finally secured, the Columbus Blue Jackets have one last chance to avoid facing the NHL's top team in the first round. Columbus will have its sights set on the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference when it visits the Ottawa Senators on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Blue Jackets clinched a spot in the postseason with Friday's 3-2 road shootout win over the New York Rangers and hope to overtake Carolina for the first wild card. Artemi Panarin scored with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third period to give Columbus a 2-1 lead that it squandered, but he netted the lone tally in the bonus format to extend the team's road winning streak to four games and punch its ticket to the playoffs. Ottawa looks to reach the 30-win mark and finish with a winning record at home as it concludes its season without a playoff appearance for the fourth time in six campaigns. The Senators, who suffered a 5-2 loss in Buffalo on Thursday, are 18-18-4 at Canadian Tire Centre but have dropped two of their last three there.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), Sportsnet360, TVA2, CITY (Ottawa)
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (46-31-4): David Savard notched a pair of assists against the Rangers, giving him seven points in his last 11 games. The 28-year-old defenseman has recorded four goals and three assists in that span and is poised to appear in every game of the season for the second time in his career (2014-15). Ryan Dzingel scored only four goals in 20 games since being acquired from Ottawa while Matt Duchene has netted the same amount in 22 contests since coming over from the Senators.
ABOUT THE SENATORS (29-46-6): Zack Smith has been kept off the scoresheet in five of his last six contests and is one assist away from 100 for his career. Bobby Ryan sat out the loss to the Sabres with an undisclosed injury he suffered while blocking a shot in his previous game. The 32-year-old right wing is three assists shy of 300 for his career.
1. Blue Jackets C Boone Jenner needs one point to reach 200 for his career.
2. Ottawa D Christian Jaros exited Thursday's game with a leg injury and could miss the season finale.
3. Columbus C Alexandre Texier was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League and made his NHL debut on Friday, registering three shots in 11 minutes, 49 seconds of ice time.
PREDICTION: Blue Jackets 4, Senators 1