The Jackets are looking to win their second game in row for just the second time since the streak ended. They have been up and down and are 4-5-1 over their last 10. The Penguins come into the game having won their last two. They have been solid over their last 10 with a 6-2-2 record.
Pittsburgh is coming off an emotional game last night in which they beat the Jets 4-3 in overtime. Sidney Crosby scored his 1000th NHL point in the game, the 86th player to do. There was a lot of energy in that game last night for Penguins, if they can’t find that same energy against Columbus, the Jackets will take advantage and this could end up as another 7-1 game.
Nationwide Arena is going to be rocking you know that. The fans have always come out for Pittsburgh games, but now with both teams in the thick of a playoff race, everything is ramped up even more. The Blue Jacket players are certainly going to feed on that, and Pittsburgh is going to have to try and match it.
The key for the Blue Jackets, as it always is against Pittsburgh is Brandon Dubinsky. He loves playing the Penguins and it shows. In two games this season he has four points, his most against any opponent outside of Detroit where he has six points in three games. In his career he has 31 points in 45 games against the Penguins, his third most points versus one team. He comes into the game playing very well with five goals and nine assists over his last 15 games.
The other key for the Jackets will be their new look lines. The team is being very quiet on the injury to Scott Hartnell, his status for tonight is unknown. If he does play, I would imagine he slots back in on the fourth line with potentially Sam Gagner taking a seat. Gagner has slowed down significantly and it might be best to give him a game off to let him regroup and refocus. I think Gagner is the one to scratch because I don’t see them wanting to scratch Oliver Bjorkstrand after his strong showing against the Leafs.
There are just three game tonight which has put Pittsburgh-Columbus into the spotlight. The game will be broadcast nationally on NHL Network in the States, and on Sportsnet in Canada. Puck drop at 7pm.