(SportsNetwork.com) - Both the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets have fallen into little slumps following a stretch of solid hockey. The two playoff hopefuls try to rebound on Tuesday night in a clash at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus has lost consecutive games in regulation after winning a club-record eight in a row, slipping back into the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Blue Jackets sit a point back of the Carolina Hurricanes for third place in the Metropolitan Division and an automatic postseason berth.
Ottawa, meanwhile, is 1-2-2 on the heels of a 6-0-1 run, leaving the squad tied for 12th in the conference and three points behind eighth-place Detroit.
The Sens and Blue Jackets are both coming off costly losses to the Hurricanes.
Ottawa never led in Saturday's 6-3 defeat in Carolina. The Senators fell behind 4-0 before Kyle Turris scored twice in the second period -- once shorthanded -- and Mika Zibanejad scored with 10 seconds left in the frame to make it a 5-3 deficit.
Robin Lehner turned aside 17-of-22 shots before being benched after two periods, with Craig Anderson making nine saves in relief.
Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said he liked the start of the game as the two clubs battled through 20 scoreless minutes before combining for seven goals in the middle period.
"You can't play catch-up hockey all the time," MacLean said. "You'll never have any chance to be successful consistently. Today we played catch-up the whole game. I mean, goals we gave up in the second period we can't say the goalie gave them up. Our whole team was out there. We turned over pucks and we weren't in the right spots and we didn't compete hard enough in our defensive zone."
Anderson will get the start tonight for the Senators and is 8-4-0 lifetime versus the Blue Jackets with a 2.52 goals against average in 12 meetings.
Columbus had its franchise-record win streak snapped with a 5-2 setback to Buffalo on Saturday, then lost a 3-2 road decision to Carolina last night.
Derek MacKenzie and R.J. Umberger scored 17 seconds apart in the first period for the Blue Jackets and they led held until the Hurricanes' Eric Staal scored two goals a minute apart just past the midway point of the third frame.
Jordan Staal then netted the winner for Carolina with 5:55 to play.
"We gave up three goals in less than three minutes. For 57 minutes, I thought we managed it pretty well. Those three minutes, that's the game," Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed all three goals on 35 shots in the setback and has lost consecutive games after winning his previous nine consecutive decisions.
Bobrovsky is 4-1-1 with a 2.14 GAA in six career games versus the Senators, but could be in line for a break tonight. That would give Curtis McElhinney his first start since Jan. 11, though he did relieve Bobrovsky in Saturday's loss to the Sabres.
McElhinney faced the Senators for the first time in his career back on Nov. 5 and allowed three goals on 23 shots in a home setback.
The Blue Jackets and Senators have traded 4-1 road wins this season, with Ottawa's victory snapping a three-game series road losing streak.