Devils try to extend win streak vs. Blue Jackets

( - The New Jersey Devils aim for a third straight victory as they try to aid their minuscule playoff chances in Friday's home meeting with the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.

New Jersey is eight points out of a playoff spot with only 18 games left on its schedule, meaning the Devils are likely headed for a third straight year out of the postseason after making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012.

Nonetheless, the club would like a strong finish to the 2014-15 campaign and the Devils' 6-1-1 record over their last eight games show they are capable of doing just that.

New Jersey's current two-game win streak began with a 2-0 win last Saturday in Columbus before the Devils notched Tuesday's 3-1 home win over Nashville. A win tonight at Prudential Center would give Jersey a 3-0 record in the season series against the Blue Jackets, who host the final meeting between the clubs on March 31.

The Devils are playing the middle test of a three-game homestand tonight and have dominated Columbus in the Garden State over the years. The Jackets are 1-5-1 with a tie in their eight all-time trips to New Jersey.

New Jersey pushed its home record this season to 16-9-8 with Tuesday's win over the Predators.

Cory Schneider stopped 33 shots for the win, while Adam Larsson, Eric Gelinas and Mike Cammalleri each scored a goal for the Devils.

"We felt good tonight, we were energetic and got all over them," said Schneider. "We scored two quick goals and were really able to take it to them from the start."

Schneider is expected to start tonight. He boasts a 9-2-1 record and 1.87 goals against average in his career versus the Blue Jackets.

Columbus enters Friday on its second longest losing streak of the season, having dropped seven straight. The 0-6-1 slide is two games shy of a nine-game drought (0-8-1) from Oct. 24-Nov. 11.

The Blue Jackets have lost five straight in regulation and fell 5-3 on Tuesday against Washington in goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky's return to the crease. Alex Ovechkin scored twice against Bobrovsky to lead the Capitals to the road victory at Nationwide Arena.

Bobrovsky allowed four goals on 32 shots after missing 17 games with a groin injury.

Scott Hartnell posted two goals and an assist in the loss and David Savard also scored in a game that saw the two teams combine for 80 penalty minutes.

"It seemed like we were at each others' throats the whole game," said Hartnell. "It's nice to see that competitiveness."

Bobrovsky will start again tonight, but backup Curtis McElhinney could get the call Saturday when Columbus hosts Colorado.

The Blue Jackets have lost three straight on the road and are 14-15-2 as the visiting team this season.

Forward David Clarkson, who was acquired from Toronto in a trade last week, suffered a torn oblique muscle in Tuesday's game. Clarkson is expected to miss at least four weeks, meaning his season could be over.