Columbus Blue Jackets (26-27-3) at Montreal Canadiens (37-16-5)
|Date & Time||Saturday February 21, 2015, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Montreal Canadiens -208 / Columbus Blue Jackets +186 --- Over/Under: 5
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The Columbus Blue Jackets enter Saturday night’s contest in Montreal winners of two straight games and three of their last four overall. Thursday night they were heavy favorites on the road in Pittsburgh but a late shorthanded goal by Brandon Dubinsky proved to be the difference in the 2-1 win. Scott Hartnell’s 14th goal of the season gave Columbus a 1-0 lead late in the first period and Pittsburgh would tie it on a goal from Evgeni Malkin midway through the second. These two teams played an even match as shown by the 30-30 shot total. It looked like Kevin Connauton could be the goat in this one after his tripping penalty against Brandon Sutter set up the Penguins and their lethal power play with under four minutes remaining in regulation. Instead it was Matt Calvert making a great play in the neutral zone and driving hard to the net, creating a rebound and wide open net for Dubinsky to net the game winner. Curtis McElhinney made some big saves in this one and finished the night with 29 saves to improve his record to 10-9-1 on the year. Despite their recent string of success the Blue Jackets still find themselves an almost insurmountable 10 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Columbus will play the Canadiens twice in the next four games and also travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers on Sunday night.
In Montreal the Canadiens are trying their best to maintain their lead in the Atlantic Division over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canadiens currently sit one point ahead of the Lightning and having played two fewer games than Tampa Bay as they head into Saturday night’s contest with the Blue Jackets. While it might not be the dream scenario for most fans in the Montreal area to play the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs it sure would be entertaining from a league perspective. It also would behoove the Canadiens because it’s clear that they’re a much better team than the Bruins are this season and it would really help them to avoid playing the Lightning or the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round. Right now the Canadiens will just be looking to snap their two game losing streak after falling to Ottawa on Wednesday night and Florida on Thursday. Brendan Gallagher scored twice in the second period to give the Canadiens a 2-0 lead, but it was one that they ultimately couldn’t hold. Carey Price allowed a goal 1:22 after Gallagher’s second goal and another less than five minutes into the third as the Panthers tied it. In the shootout Max Pacioretty was the only member of the Canadiens to get one by Roberto Luongo and Price allowed two Panthers shooters to score as they sent Montreal to a 3-2 defeat.
This would be a good game to play the Under if it weren’t set at five going into the game. Montreal is a heavy favorite in this one but much like Pittsburgh on Thursday night they head into this match up struggling a bit. This is one to stay away from unless you’re willing to take a shot on the Blue Jackets as heavy road favorites again or believe in the Canadiens on the money line.