Canadiens and Blue Jackets Battle for Final Playoff Spot
Thursday night will be the most important game of the season for both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens. Both clubs are in the midst of a playoff battle for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Just two points are separating the teams. Thursday’s game could mean a potential four-point swing for the winning team.
Over the course of the past week, Montreal has managed to secure 9 of 10 possible points. That hot play has allowed them to gain ground on the Carolina Hurricanes, who currently hold the first Wild Card spot. They have also stayed ahead of the Blue Jackets. Goaltender Carey Price has been the difference maker for them over that run. He’s registered a shutout and allowed just eight goals over those five games.
Columbus is feeling the pressure of the playoff push. They have responded by shutting out their opponents in each of the last two games. Sergei Bobrovsky saved all 47 shots he faced over those two games. He is doing his part to keep the Blue Jackets in the race. The winner of Thursday’s contest will have an edge in the playoff race heading into the final five games of the season.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Bobrovsky has turned aside 120 of 123 shots in his last four outings for the Blue Jackets. They have improved to 4-0-1 in their last five outings following Tuesday’s 4-0 victory over the New York Islanders. The Blue Jackets have won a season high-tying four in a row at home heading into Thursday’s pivotal contest. Montreal is riding the strong play of its own former Vezina Trophy recipient to cling to the final wild-card spot. Carey Price made 33 saves in Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over Florida. He has yielded 13 goals in his last eight contests overall and owns a 9-3-1 mark in 13 career encounters with Columbus.
The Canadiens are 41-28-8 on the season. Tomas Tatar recorded his second three-point performance in three games on Tuesday. This arguably could be construed as the best season of his career. He’ll likely get no argument from the Blue Jackets. Tatar boosted his point total to a career-best 57. This was after collecting two goals and an assist against the Panthers. He scored twice in a 4-1 win in Columbus on Jan. 18, and he tallied again versus the Blue Jackets in a 3-2 victory on Feb. 19. Artturi Lehkonen scored for the second time in his last three games. He was able to lift his goal total to 10, giving Montreal an NHL-best 12 skaters in double digits. C Max Domi has eight (five goals, three assists) of his team-leading 68 points in his last eight games. D Phillip Danault scored on Tuesday to snap a 20-game goal drought and move within one point of 50 for the first time in his career.
The Blue Jackets are 42-30-4 on the season. Matt Duchene recorded his 20th multi-point performance of the season and second with Columbus. He was instrumental in setting up a pair of goals against the Islanders. He collected a goal and two assists against Montreal while playing for Ottawa. Fellow former Senator Ryan Dzingel has found his stride by scoring a goal in his second consecutive contest. He was able to extend his point streak to three games. Artemi Panarin, who tallied for the first time in March on Tuesday, also has set up four goals in his last seven contests. That boosted his team-leading totals in assists (52) and points (78). D Seth Jones has scored one goal and set up four others during his five-game point streak at home.
Prediction: Blue Jackets 3, Canadiens 1
NHL Betting Odds & Trends
|Montreal is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games|
|Montreal is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Montreal’s last 8 games|
|Montreal is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games on the road|
|Montreal is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games on the road|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Montreal’s last 6 games on the road|
|Montreal is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing Columbus|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Montreal’s last 7 games when playing Columbus|
|Montreal is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Columbus|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Montreal’s last 6 games when playing on the road against Columbus|
|Columbus Blue Jackets|
|Columbus is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Columbus’s last 5 games|
|Columbus is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home|
|Columbus is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games at home|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Columbus’s last 6 games at home|
|Columbus is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing Montreal|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Columbus’s last 7 games when playing Montreal|
|Columbus is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Montreal|
|The total has gone OVER in 4 of Columbus’s last 6 games when playing at home against Montreal|
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