NHL Hockey

Defensive issues plague Sens, Jackets ahead of battle

Keeping pucks out of the net continues to be an issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators.

With both still looking to clamp down defensively, the Blue Jackets aim to avoid a third straight home defeat and extend the Senators' three-game slide on Sunday night in Columbus.

Entering play Saturday, Columbus ranked 28th in the NHL allowing 3.58 goals per game. Ottawa, meanwhile, was tied for last in the league giving up 3.67 per contest.

The Blue Jackets have yielded an average of 4.2 goals while going 6-13-1 over their last 20 games, allowing five or more markers eight times over that stretch.

Sidney Crosby recorded a hat trick as Pittsburgh scored three times in the third period and left Columbus with a 5-2 win on Friday. The Blue Jackets have alternated wins and losses over their last six games, but they have lost four of five at home.

"You put your best foot forward and keep going," Columbus forward Sean Kuraly said. "Just got to try and respond to those moments that don't go your way. Hopefully, we can learn from some of them from (Friday)."

The Blue Jackets' Joonas Korpisalo made 26 saves on Friday, falling to 4-8-0 with a 3.91 goals-against average as a starter this season. Starter Elvis Merzlikins has a 2.25 GAA while winning two of his last three starts -- all on the road.

Columbus star Boone Jenner has recorded four of his team-leading 16 goals and posted three assists during a six-game point streak. Jenner also has four goals and three assists during nine career home games versus Ottawa.

The Blue Jackets have outscored the Senators 25-13 during a current 6-0-1 stretch in the series. However, these teams are meeting for the first time since Feb. 24, 2020. Columbus has also won five straight at home over Ottawa.

The Senators led 2-0 after two periods on Saturday night at Washington but gave up two goals in the third and allowed the Capitals to score the winner 1:13 into the overtime of a 3-2 loss. Ottawa is mired in a 2-4-2 rut and has allowed 27 goals in the last seven contests.

"There's a lot of good things we did (Saturday)," Senators winger Alex Formenton told TSN1200. "After a loss, it's nice to turn the page, and get to play the next day."

Formenton has three goals with eight assists in his last 11 games

Ottawa's Zach Sanford has 10 points on the season, but he's recorded two goals and an assist in the last four games. Teammate Josh Norris, whose turnover led to Washington's winning goal Saturday, has scored four of his team-leading 18 goals in the last four games.

After Matt Murray made 30 saves against the Capitals, Anton Forsberg could get the start Sunday. Forsberg, who was pulled after allowing two goals on seven shots in Thursday's 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh, has a 3.09 goals-against average while going 0-2-1 in his last four starts.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 23, 2022

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