(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets are aiming for a win and a little
bit of help, as they try to make the playoffs for just the second time since
the franchise's inception.
The Blue Jackets have one last chance to prove themselves playoff worthy when
they welcome the Nashville Predators on Saturday for one of the most important
games ever played at Nationwide Arena.
With 53 points, the Blue Jackets are tied with Minnesota for the last playoff
spot in the West and one point in back of seventh-seeded Detroit. All three
teams play their final games of the regular season on Saturday.
Columbus has several avenues into the postseason, but most of them require the
Blue Jackets to win Saturday's regular-season finale.
A Blue Jackets' win plus a regulation loss by Detroit at Dallas would do the
trick. Columbus could also get in if it wins and Minnesota loses Saturday at
Colorado, or if the Wild lose in regulation and Columbus gains a point against
the Predators. If any of those scenarios play out, the Blue Jackets will be a
playoff team for the second time since entering the league in 2000-01 and
first time since 2009, when they were swept out of the first round by the Red
Playoffs or not, Columbus certainly can hold its head high due to its
performance down the stretch. The Blue Jackets have won seven of their last
eight and closed a six-game road trip with consecutive wins after Thursday's
3-1 victory in Dallas.
Columbus and Dallas both needed wins to stay alive heading into Thursday's
game, but the Stars would've been eliminated anyway after Detroit beat
Nashville on the same night. The Blue Jackets, however, stayed alive thanks to
a two-goal effort from Cam Atkinson and 31 saves from goaltender Sergei
"It feels great," Atkinson said of being in the playoff race. "You can only
control what you can control and that's what we're doing."
Mark Letestu also tallied for the Blue Jackets, who went 5-1-0 on the trip to
end the regular season with a 10-12-2 mark on the road. Columbus is 13-5-5 as
the host in 2013.
The Blue Jackets have taken three of four from Nashville this season, but the
Preds have won eight of 12 in the series overall. The Predators also had won
three straight in Columbus before the Blue Jackets recorded a 4-3 regulation
win at Nationwide Arena on March 19.
Nashville will miss the playoffs for just the second time in nine seasons and
Barry Trotz's club will be happy to put this campaign in the rearview mirror
after the season finale on Saturday.
The Predators have lost nine of 10 and 12 of their last 14 games and were
handed a 5-2 loss Thursday in Detroit. Pavel Datsyuk posted a goal and an
assist during a three-goal second period that propelled the playoff-hopeful
Red Wings to a much-needed win.
Mike Fisher and Craig Smith registered a goal and an assist apiece for the
Predators, while Chris Mason made 33 saves in defeat.
"Early you could tell there was a lot of rust," Nashville coach Barry Trotz
said of Mason. "He's hasn't played a lot, but he's a battler and he battled
The Preds are 5-13-5 as the road team this season and have lost nine in a row
as the guest since earning a win at Dallas on March 12.
The Sports Network