Blue Jackets aim to continue dominance vs. Senators
Things have been equally rough over the past 10 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators, but both teams made small progress this week.
Each club aims to earn at least a point in its third straight contest when the visiting Blue Jackets look to continue their recent dominance over the Senators on Saturday.
Columbus and Ottawa, both near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, sport matching 3-6-1 records over the past 10 games. That included the Blue Jackets' recording their fifth consecutive victory over the Senators, 1-0 at home on Nov. 25. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored 21 seconds into the third period and Joonas Korpisalo made 25 saves for his second career shutout.
Columbus has won only twice in eight contests since then but snapped a four-game slide with Monday's 5-2 win at Washington. The club then earned a point with a 1-0 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Thursday, getting 31 saves from Korpisalo, who is 6-3-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average over his past 10 starts.
Though the Blue Jackets have taken three points from their past two games and are 1-1-1 heading in to the final game of a four-game trip, they feel the collective effort must be better than what was shown on Thursday.
"Early on, we did not match (Pittsburgh's) intensity at all," forward Nick Foligno told NHL.com. "It's unacceptable on our part. We need to make sure that's not the case again, where we're getting outworked."
Columbus hasn't seemed to have that problem while outscoring Ottawa 18-6 during that five-game winning streak in the series.
The Senators' loss to the Blue Jackets last month kicked off a season-high five-game losing streak. Since that slide, Ottawa is 2-1-1, highlighted by a 5-2 home win over Boston on Monday.
The Senators followed with a 3-2 overtime loss at Montreal on Wednesday. Down 2-0 in the third period, Brady Tkachuk scored his 11th goal of the season, then assisted on Connor Brown's tying goal. However, Ottawa fell in the extra session.
"I thought our guys played hard," first-year Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said. "To be down 2-0 in Montreal, we didn't stop and I thought we kept going. You lose in overtime, it is what it is, but I thought our guys played really hard."
Tkachuk continues to play hard while recording three goals over a seven-game stretch. He will try a fifth time to record his first point against the Blue Jackets.
While veteran Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson deals with a knee injury, Anders Nilsson likely will continue to carry the load in net. Nilsson has won five of his past six starts at home. For the season, he is 8-8-2 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Current backup Marcus Hogberg has made only one start this season.
The Senators lost defenseman Dylan DeMelo for three to four weeks with a broken finger, Smith told reporters on Friday.
DeMelo was injured when he was hit by a shot during Wednesday's game against the Montreal Canadiens. He has six assists in 32 games this season.
Columbus' Bjorkstrand has just one goal in eight games since scoring against the Senators last month. He has scored in three straight games against Ottawa, also recording two assists over that span.
Blue Jackets rookie backup netminder Elvis Merzlikins is 0-4-3 with a 3.30 goals-against average in eight appearances, seven as a starter.
--Field Level Media