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LIVE UPDATES: Canadiens vs. Blue Jackets in battle for playoff spot

Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens attempts to get a shot off on Sergei Bobrovsky  of the Columbus Blue Jackets March 12, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens attempts to get a shot off on Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets March 12, 2018 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

The Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets are in a battle for a Wild Card playoff spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference.

  • The Canadiens currently hold the 8th and final spot in the East with 90 points.
  • The Blue Jackets trail them with 88 points.
  • Montreal has five games remaining on their schedule.
  • Columbus has six games remaining on their schedule.
  • GAME TIME: 7 p.m. in Columbus
  • TV: FSOH, NHLN

About the Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets aer 5-4-1 in their past 10 games. They were considered a playoff team at the start of the season, and definitely were expected to be in one of the Metropolitan Division's top three spots by the end of the season.

However, things have not gone as expected, especially after their slide down the standings in the second half of the season. While rumors have swirled all season about two of their top players -- forward Artemi Panarin and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky -- leaving the team, Columbus has held on to both for now and doubled down at the trade deadline. They picked up forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel in an effort to secure a deep playoff run. But now they are struggling to make the postseason.

Coach John Tortorella is on the hot seat once again. Thursday night's meeting is crucial, to say the least.

About the Canadiens

At the beginning of the season the Canadiens were expected to be somewhere between mediocre and battling for a playoff spot, at best. With world-class goalie Carey Price healthy and playing at his peak, Montreal is no pushover.

Moreover, they made a couple of adds in the offseason that have paid off well. Forward Tomas Tatar has 25 goals and 32 assists this season while Max Domi leads the team with 68 points.

Winger Brendan Gallagher remains the heart-and-soul of the squad, leading the Canadiens both on and off the ice, and forward Andrew Shaw is the proving to be the pest they wanted when he moved over from Chicago.

Forward Jonathan Drouin, who Montreal picked up in 2017, is having another career year with 18 goals and 34 assists, helping Montreal become an even more skilled squad up front.

A healthy Shea Weber on the blue line makes the Canadiens a formidable force to reckon with, and no one wants to pull them in the first round.

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