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Game #68 Preview: Opportune Time to Beat Pittsburgh Couldn’t Come at Better Time

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Pittsburgh has dominated the Blue Jackets for quite a while, a stretch lasting over two years since the last victory. Eventually the losing streak will end, and tonight wouldn’t be a bad time for that to happen.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday, March 9, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Pensburgh

Pittsburgh Penguins, 36-22-9, 81 points, 3rd Metro, 6th East

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Columbus Blue Jackets, 37-27-3, 77 points, 5th Metro, 9th East

The Columbus Blue Jackets conclude their regular season series with the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight with the second of their home-and-home from Nationwide Arena. Columbus dropped Thursday’s game from PPG Paints Arena 3-0. Joonas Korpisalo put up a strong effort with 28 saves on 30 shots, but the offense failed to muster anything past Matt Murray. John Tortorella hopes his team will respond at the most crucial time, with both the Canadiens and Hurricanes, two teams ahead of Columbus in the wild card race, losing Friday night. A win could vault Columbus into a three-way tie amongst the wild card participants, pending the ‘Canes outcome against the Predators Saturday night.

Player to Watch

Jarmo Kekäläinen went all in when he acquired the big fish headlining the trade deadline in Matt Duchene. In eight games as a Blue Jacket, Duchene has three points (one goal, two assists) as he and the offense look to snap out of the slumber that currently embroils the club during a shutout streak of 124:08, with the teams’ last goal coming just 52 seconds into the game at the Devils last Tuesday.

Said Duchene,

“We just can’t get one to go,” regarding the teams’ lack of scoring. “If it wasn’t such an important time of year, it would be comical what’s going on. Honestly. That’s it. That’s the element missing from our game is the finish, and if we find that, we’re going to start winning games.”

No time like the present to snap the funk, and for Duchene to be the one to light that spark.

Jackets Notes

The Blue Jackets enter action on a seven-game losing streak to the Penguins, including eight-straight regular season losses against Pittsburgh. ... The last win for the Blue Jackets against the Penguins was Game 4 of the of the 2017 Quarterfinals, 5-4, the last regular season win against them was Feb. 17, 2007 in overtime, 2-1, and the last regulation win against the Penguins was Dec. 22, 2016, 7-1. ... Joonas Korpisalo put together the solid effort against the Penguins last time out, could he or Keith Kinkaid get the start tonight? I would probably roll the dice with either of the two, but particularly Korpisalo as Kinkaid, who’s last game came against the Penguins, a loss, has not played since Feb. 19. ... Sergei Bobrovsky was a healthy scratch, watching Thursday’s contest from the press box. ... Josh Anderson’s next point will be his 100th career. ... Today is Ryan Dzingel’s 27th birthday.

The Other Bench

Pittsburgh has taken over third in the Metropolitan and looks to add to their two-point lead over the wild card spots. They are just six points from the division lead. Sidney Crosby comes into play on a six-game goal streak. and has two goals versus Columbus — both empty-netters — in the last two games, and five total points on the season in three games against the Jackets. Evgeni Malkin has three points (one goal, two assists) against the Jackets this season. But Jake Guentzel, the one that could be described as a ‘Blue Jackets killer’ has five points (four goals, one assist) against Columbus this season, with a hat trick in the first game Nov. 24th, and 12 points, seven goals in 10 career regular season meetings against the Blue Jackets. Not to mention five more goals against them in the playoffs.

Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (upper body), Chad Ruhwedel (arm), Bryan Rust (lower body), and Zach Trotman (upper body) have all been dealing with ailments.

Season Series

11/24/2018 CBJ 2 @ PIT 4
2/26/2019 PIT 5 @ CBJ 2
3/7/2019 CBJ 0 @ PIT 3
3/9/2019 PIT @ CBJ

Stats

Pittsburgh Columbus
3.45 (5) GPG 3.04 (11)
3.01 (16) GAPG 2.98 (14)
25.3% (5) PP% 15.3% (28)
80.2% (t-16) PK% 84.1% (3)
49.28% (17) EV Corsi % 50.37% (12)
101.6 (5) EV PDO 99.6 (t-19)
Jake Guentzel, 33 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 36
Sidney Crosby, 56 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 48
Sidney Crosby, 87 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 73
Evgeni Malkin, 85 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 56
17-10-7 Home / Road 17-16-2
6-2-2 Last 10 4-6-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Ryan Dzingel Matt Duchene Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nick Foligno Boone Jenner Josh Anderson
Brandon Dubinsky Alexander Wennberg Markus Hannikainen
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Markus Nutivaara David Savard
Scott Harrington Dean Kukan
Joonas Korpisalo / Keith Kinkaid
Sergei Bobrovsky
Pittsburgh Penguins
Jared McCann Sidney Crosby Jake Guentzel
Zach Aston-Reese Evgeni Malkin Phil Kessel
Dominik Simon Nick Bjugstad Patric Hornqvist
Teddy Blueger Matt Cullen Garrett Wilson
Brian Dumoulin Zach Trotman
Jack Johnson Justin Schultz
Marcus Pettersson Erik Gudbranson
Matt Murray
Casey DeSmith