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Game #42 Preview: Blue Jackets look to sweep Lightning, keep fading playoff hopes alive

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Here’s what you need to know.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue Jackets
Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 7:00 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH
TV: Bally’s Sports Ohio - Radio: WBNS FM
Opponent’s Blog: Raw Charge

Tampa Bay Lightning, 26-11-2, 54 points, .692 P%, 3rd Central, 5th NHL
@
Columbus Blue Jackets, 15-18-8, 38 points, .463 P%, 6th Central, 22nd NHL

Just when you want to count this team out, they do something like Tuesday night.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, with their backs against the wall and vultures circling the team for trade pieces, pulled a rabbit out of their hat and scored a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Jackets had just 39% of shots at 5v5, 42.3% of scoring chances, and 35% of xGF, but managed to make the most of their opportunities to walk away with a 4-2 win. Can the Jackets do it again tonight?

If they do, they will have to do it without one of their key players. On Wednesday afternoon, head coach John Tortorella confirmed that Boone Jenner will miss the rest of the season after having surgery on a broken finger.

Jenner was second on the team in points scored at 5v5 and led the team in faceoff wins for the season. His loss is momentous going forward. After also losing Riley Nash to injury this week, the Blue Jackets depth is getting thin and quickly.

With the trade deadline looming, the possibility of sitting one of the potential trade targets (at this time, David Savard and Nick Foligno) has to be mentioned, but is not expected at the time of writing.

The Blue Jackets head into tonight’s game five points behind the Nashville Predators for the fourth spot in the playoffs, with the Chicago Blackhawks also ahead of them and the Dallas Stars on their heels. To keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Jackets need to secure an important two points tonight. Let’s see if they can do it.

Player to Watch

Kevin Stenlund

With Jenner out due to his broken finger, expect to see Kevin Stenlund draw back in the lineup tonight. Stenlund was scratched recently, but has been a strong performer for the club this season. Stenlund is second on the team in xGF% this season (50.01, one of only three players over the 50% mark this year) and has helped to stabilize a center position that has turned into a position of weakness over the course of the year. With Boone Jenner out, Riley Nash out, and Nick Foligno potentially on the trade block, Stenlund will be a critical player down the stretch for the club. He should get a lot of run in the lineup - hopefully he can take advantage.

Jackets Notes

As Pale Dragon noted in the comments yesterday, the Jackets are 3-1-1 against the Lightning this year and 12-17-7 against the rest of the division ... The Jackets have a .700 points percentage against the Lightning this year ... Gustav Nyquist is practicing with the team, but as of right now, there is no timetable for his expected return to the lineup ... Alexandre Texier and Liam Foudy were sent to the taxi squad yesterday in a paper move, but are expected to be recalled for tonight’s game ... The Blue Jackets are 2-7 since March 20, but the two wins are against the Lightning

The Other Bench

The Lightning, long the best team this season, are just 5-5-0 in their last ten games ... Nikita Kucherov has been practicing with the Lightning, but is not expected to return until the playoffs ... The Bolts’ recent slump has dropped them to third in the division, behind both the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes ... Tuesday’s game was the fourth straight game the Lightning had been held to two goals or fewer

Season Series

01/21/21 TBL 3 @ CBJ 2 (OT)
01/23/21 TBL 2 @ CBJ 5
03/30/21 CBJ 3 @ TBL 1
04/01/21 CBJ 2 @ TBL 3
04/06/21 TBL 2 @ CBJ 4
04/08/21 TBL @ CBJ
04/22/21 CBJ @ TBL
04/25/21 CBJ @ TBL

Stats

Tampa Bay Columbus
3.36 (2) GPG 2.44 (28)
2.46 (5) GAPG 3.12 (24)
25.4% (4) PP% 14.4% (27)
81.7% (10) PK% 78.1% (19)
52.39% (6) 5v5 Shot Attempt % 46.14% (30)
52.82% (6) 5v5 Unblocked shot attempt % 46.95% (29)
8.55 (11) 5v5 Shot % 7.23 (25)
.933 (1) 5v5 Save % .916 (20)
Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point, 16 G Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 14
Victor Hedman, 29 A Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 17
Victor Hedman, 36 P Leader Oliver Bjorkstrand, 31
Pat Maroon, 46 PIM Leader Max Domi, 39
11-7-2 Home / Road 8-6-6
5-5-0 Last 10 3-6-1

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets

Patrik Laine Max Domi Eric Robinson
Oliver Bjorkstrand Jack Roslovic Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Alexandre Texier Zac Dalpe
Liam Foudy Kevin Stenlund Mikhail Grigorenko
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov David Savard
Dean Kukan Mikko Lehtonen
Joonas Korpisalo
Elvis Merzlikins

Tampa Bay Lightning

Ondrej Palat Brayden Point Tyler Johnson
Alex Killorn Anthony Cirelli Steven Stamkos
Barclay Goodrow Yanni Gourde Blake Coleman
Pat Maroon Ross Colton Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman Cal Foote
Ryan McDonagh Luke Schenn
Mikhail Sergachev Ben Thomas
Andrei Vasilevskiy
Curtis McElhinney