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Hurricanes vs. Blue Jackets: Game Preview 3-29-14

The Canes close out their season series against the Blue Jackets tonight.

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
March 29, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Fox Sports Carolinas
Radio - 99.9 The Fan

SB Nation Rival Blog: The Cannon

Hurricanes Record: 32-32-9 | 73 pts | 7th Metro | 13th EC
Blue Jackets Record: 37-30-6 | 80 pts | 4th Metro | 7th EC

Post-Season Picture:
Games Remaining: 9
Estimated Points Needed: 91
Points Back: 18 (win out)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 1.1%
Tragic Number: 12

Team line combinations: [Blue Jackets] [Hurricanes]

Earlier this season the Hurricanes ended an eight-year losing streak against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 3-2 win in Raleigh. Then two weeks ago they ended a ten-year drought in Columbus with a 3-1 win. So what's left? At this point in the season, short of winning out to beat the playoff odds, it's playing spoiler against the Blue Jackets' playoff hopes.

The Blue Jackets are in the thick of the playoff battle, tied with three other Eastern Conference teams with 80 points and battling for the final wild card spots. They arrive in Raleigh on the back end of a back-to-back series and with a 2-1 loss to the Penguins (who clinched a playoff berth) last night in Columbus.

Curtis McElhinney was in net for last night's loss, backed up by Mike McKenna. After the game McKenna was reassigned to the Jackets' AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons. Primary netminder Sergei Bobrovsky had been out with an illness and practiced yesterday but wasn't well enough to join the lineup. He traveled with the team to Raleigh and will skate today to assess his status for tonight.

There are no other known changes to last night's lineup, although head coach Todd Richards hinted there may be a few after today's practice [Columbus Dispatch]. Ryan Murray remains out as he continues to recover from a knee injury. Ryan Johansen leads the Jackets in scoring with 54 points (29g, 25a). James Wisniewski has four points in his last two games.

Anton Khudobin was 50 seconds away from his first shutout as a Hurricane when the Jackets spoiled that on March 18th. Dobby finally broke through with Thursday night's 3-0 shutout win against the Panthers, and he may get rewarded with a start again tonight. He is 2-1-0 career against the Jackets and the only current Hurricane goalie with a win against them (Cam Ward is 0-4-0 and Justin Peters is 0-1-0).

The Staal brothers were the one-two punch knocking out the Blue Jackets when the teams last met here in Raleigh; Eric Staal with the first two goals and Jordan Staal following up with the game-winner. Jiri Tlusty and Jeff Skinner both have points in three consecutive games.

The Canes didn't practice yesterday and there won't be any lineup updates until after the morning skate, so stay tuned for news in that regard. In the meantime, catch up on a few pre-game clicks:

- Michael Smith answers your Tweetmail, and he and Kyle Hanlin offer up the 14th episode of the Hurricanes Report Podcast.

- Go behind the scenes of the Canes annual fathers trip with Open Ice: Fathers and Sons [CanesVison].

- Andrei Loktionov is making an impact with his new team [N&O].

- Down on the farm, the Checkers are keeping their post-season hopes alive, pulling into a playoff position for the first time in five months with a win for the ages against the Iowa Wild. The 7-0 rout featured a new franchise points record by Zach Boychuk (2g, 3a) and a third period donnybrook that was good for 230 penalty minutes [Puck Daddy]:

If you're headed to the arena, it's Go Green Night sponsored by Bayer CropScience. The Canes Promotions crew has a lot of activities in store, starting with a South Plaza party before the game. The players will be wearing commemorative green jerseys at warmups (to be auctioned later), and sporting their white away jerseys during the game. Also, the Kids 'n Community Foundation is selling mystery player t-shirts.

We'll have the game thread ready to roll by 6:30 pm. See you there.