Thanks in large part to their record-setting streak, the Columbus Blue Jackets are thinking about the playoffs.
The Calgary Flames are on the brink of matching a team record of their own, albeit a dubious one.
The Blue Jackets will try to remain unbeaten in regulation for a 12th consecutive game Friday night and send the Flames to a ninth straight road defeat.
Columbus (12-12-6) hasn't lost in regulation since a 1-0 defeat at NHL-leading Chicago on Feb. 24. The Blue Jackets are 7-0-4 in 11 games since, the longest such streak in franchise history.
The run has put them in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, an unusual position for a team that's reached the postseason once in its 11 previous seasons.
"We expect to be in the playoff picture," center Mark Letestu said. "We expect to be in the mix come the end."
Letestu helped Columbus get two more points Tuesday, scoring a goal and assisting on another in a 4-3 win over Nashville. It was the 10th game of the Jackets' streak that was determined by one goal, and they've won six of them.
They were 3-6-2 in that scenario over the first 19 games.
"Confidence and an ability to win close games," left wing Vinny Prospal said. "That's what the league is all about right now. The good teams, even though they don't play their best, they find a way to win. We have been able to win the close games."
Prospal has nine points in the past 11 games after getting three assists against the Predators. He's accumulated 11 points in his last eight matchups with the Flames, including a goal and an assist in a 4-3 overtime loss at home Feb. 7.
Despite that defeat, the Blue Jackets are 3-0-2 in their past five meetings with Calgary (11-13-4).
Sergei Bobrovsky has lost both of his career games against the Flames, giving up a goal to Alex Tanguay at 1:07 of overtime last month after making 26 saves.
However, he's 7-0-3 with a 1.37 goals-against average and two shutouts over his last 10 games - nine starts. That includes a 1.18 GAA while helping the Jackets go 2-0-2 on this five-game homestand.
The Flames, tied with Colorado for the fewest points in the conference, are trying to conclude this three-game trip by avoiding a team-record ninth straight road loss, set Dec. 1, 1985-Jan. 12, 1986.
They've surrendered 33 goals during the current skid, which continued with Thursday's 5-3 loss to the Predators.
Blake Comeau, born a month after Calgary's record road losing streak, could help end the current one if he can continue his surge. The left wing has three goals in four games after finding the net Thursday, but he has no points in four visits to Columbus.
Jarome Iginla, who snapped a six-game goal drought against Nashville, has eight points in his last six games at Nationwide Arena, assisting on Tanguay's winner last month.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved