Blue Jackets
2 - 3 Final - 2OT
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Panthers, Blue Jackets get together at Nationwide Arena

Mar 29, 2011 - 3:27 PM
(Sports Network) - The Florida Panthers are officially headed for an NHL- record 10th straight season out of the playoffs, while Columbus is close to being eliminated from postseason contention for the ninth time in 10 campaigns as an NHL franchise.

The struggling clubs will meet tonight in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets host the Panthers at Nationwide Arena.

Florida, which last qualified for the postseason in the spring of 2000, is the first team in NHL history to miss the playoffs in 10 straight seasons. The Panthers secured the dubious record after officially being knocked out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with Friday's loss in Buffalo.

Columbus is 13 points behind Chicago for a playoff spot out West. The Blue Jackets, who made their lone postseason appearance in 2009, have just seven games left in another disappointing regular season.

The Panthers will be trying to avoid a sixth consecutive loss this evening after posting an 0-3-2 record in their last five tilts.

After losing a 4-2 decision in Buffalo on Friday, the Panthers were dealt a shootout loss this past Sunday in Pittsburgh. Alex Kovalev scored the winner in the shootout to help the Penguins take the 2-1 decision at CONSOL Energy Center.

"That's as good a road game as we can play as a group," said Florida head coach Peter DeBoer. "I thought we limited their opportunities and we had our chances out there."

Tomas Vokoun stopped 23 shots in regulation, but Scott Clemmensen came in net for overtime and the shootout. He made four saves in OT, but stopped just one skater in the shootout. Vokoun said after the game that he had back spasms that caused him to leave the game, but that it's not anything serious. Vokoun could start tonight.

Ryan Carter scored the lone goal for the Panthers, who have tied a season high with five consecutive losses. Florida last dropped six in a row during a seven-game slide from Feb. 1-March 2 of last season.

The Panthers are 0-3-1 on a five-game road trip that ends tonight and Florida has a poor 14-21-3 mark as the guest this season.

Columbus, meanwhile, has lost its last four games overall (0-3-1) and enters tonight on a six-game home losing streak. The Blue Jackets are 0-4-2 at Nationwide Arena since they last won a home game on Feb. 25 against Phoenix.

The home drought has dropped the Blue Jackets' record in Ohio this year to 16-17-4. Columbus' most recent setback came on home ice, as Vancouver recorded a 4-1 triumph in the Buckeye State on Sunday.

R.J. Umberger scored the lone goal for Columbus, while Mathieu Garon stopped 20-of-24 shots in the losing effort.

The Blue Jackets recorded a 3-2 overtime win at Florida on Jan. 19 as Umberger provided the game-winner with 54 seconds remaining in the extra session. Columbus has taken three straight and four out of five meetings in the series overall and the Panthers have lost two of their last three at Nationwide Arena.