NHL

Blue Jackets-Hurricanes Preview

The last-place Carolina Hurricanes have done a nice job of picking up points recently despite being out of the playoff race. Another two against Columbus on Tuesday night could move them past the Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina looks to win for the fifth time in seven games when it hosts Columbus, whose near monthlong struggle has it spiraling in the standings.

The Hurricanes (25-32-7) scored 12 goals during a three-game winning streak Feb. 24-28 before being held to three in back-to-back losses to open March. They got back on track in a big way Sunday, scoring their most goals since November 2010 in a 7-4 victory over Western Conference-worst Edmonton.

That win pulled Carolina within one point of Columbus (27-34-4), which fell to 1-7-1 in its last nine with a 4-0 home loss to Colorado on Saturday.

The Hurricanes trailed 3-0 in the second period before scoring six unanswered goals, capped by Elias Lindholm's second of the game at 6:49 of the third. Lindholm added an empty-netter for his first career hat trick and added two assists for his first five-point game.

"Instead of deviating away from what works, we just stayed with it and got rewarded," coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes' official website. "That should be a real good lesson moving forward, not just this year but moving forward. There's no panic and no need to change anything."

Jeff Skinner scored twice to give him five goals in his last seven games and tie Eric Staal for the team lead with 18. Staal had a career high-tying four assists.

"We wanted to respond. (The last two games) wasn't the way we wanted to play," Skinner said. "It's a good job by the guys to stick with it, show some character and in the end, come out on top."

Skinner scored in the last matchup against the Blue Jackets as Carolina won 3-2 at home on Lindholm's overtime goal Nov. 7. That came three days after Staal had a goal in a 4-2 win at Columbus.

The Hurricanes are 4-0-1 in the last five meetings.

Columbus enters this one having allowed at least four goals five times in its last seven games while getting outscored 27-13. It gave up three in the first 9:53 against the Avalanche and failed to score despite recording 44 shots.

"Really the first three minutes was the game to me," coach Todd Richards told the Blue Jackets' official website. "We came out of the first period and really thought we were the better team but we were down 3-0.

"We skated, we had energy, and we created chances but we're down 3-0. Now you're chasing the game, really chasing the game."

Curtis McElhinney was in goal for both losses against Carolina, and he was pulled Saturday after the first period. Sergei Bobrovsky replaced him and stopped 20 of 21 shots.

Bobrovsky is expected to start Tuesday. He's lost his last two starts against Carolina, allowing three goals in each.

Cam Ward is 5-1-0 despite a 2.82 goals-against average in his last six starts for Carolina. He won both matchups against Columbus in November.

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