When the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars stars last met, the attention shifted from hockey to a decidedly more serious subject in a matter of seconds.
On Wednesday, the two teams will get together in Dallas to play the game that was postponed due to a scary incident involving Stars forward Rich Peverley.
The initial matchup on March 10 was stopped with 6:23 played in the opening period after Peverley collapsed on the Dallas bench and suffered what was later called a cardiac episode. Peverley spent a few days in the hospital and eventually underwent a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, but he won't play again this season.
Columbus was ahead 1-0 at the time of Peverley's collapse, and although tonight's game will be a full 60-minute contest, the Blue Jackets will keep that lead.
Although the Blue Jackets and Stars play in different conferences, Wednesday's game is big for both teams. In fact, Columbus can clinch a playoff spot for only the second time in franchise history with a win tonight.
The Blue Jackets currently hold the last of two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference. With 89 points, Columbus is four ahead of Washington and five in front on New Jersey with three games left for all three teams. The Capitals and Devils are idle on Wednesday.
Columbus also is one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the East's first wild card berth. The Red Wings also have three games remaining and play in Pittsburgh tonight.
The Blue Jackets' only trip to the postseason came in 2009 when they were swept out of the first round by Detroit.
The Stars can't clinch on Wednesday, but they can move four points ahead of Phoenix for the last wild card spot in the West. Dallas has 89 points to give the club two more than the Coyotes, who are idle tonight. Both clubs have three games left and will face each other on the final day of the regular season, as they are set to meet Sunday in Phoenix.
The Blue Jackets have won two straight and three of their last four games and are coming off Tuesday's overtime win against the visiting Coyotes. Ryan Johansen's goal 3:33 into overtime lifted Columbus to the 4-3 win over Phoenix.
Johansen handled a loose puck near center ice, skated in along the left side and fired a wrist shot that beat Thomas Greiss top-shelf on his glove side.
"(Johansen's) been a monster for us all year, scoring some big goals," said Columbus' Blake Comeau."He thrives in those moments. He wants to be a No. 1 center like he has been for us all year. You've got to step up and be that guy in key moments, and he's done that this year."
Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves for the win and is expected to start again tonight.
Tuesday's tilt was the final home game of the regular season for Columbus, which will visit Dallas, Tampa Bay and Florida to wrap up its schedule. The Blue Jackets are 19-16-3 as the road team this season.
The Stars picked up their second victory in three games and also won for the fifth time in seven outings with Tuesday's shootout win over visiting Nashville. Tyler Seguin scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout as the Stars inched closer to a playoff spot with the 3-2 win at American Airlines Center.
"We just focused on what we could do," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "The schedule is demanding and it gets a little bit worse tomorrow. I'm a little concerned that our energy was good early and the energy began just slipping away."
Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski scored in regulation for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots.
Dallas is 22-10-7 as the host this season and is playing the second part of a three-game homestand on Wednesday. The Stars will welcome St. Louis on Friday before Sunday's meeting with the Coyotes.
Columbus has won two straight and three of the last four meetings in this series overall and has taken two straight in Big D.
Lehtonen could get the call again in net for Dallas. He is 5-5-1 with a 1.91 goals against average and .936 save percentage in his career against Columbus. Bobrovsky is 5-0-1 with a 1.96 GAA and .937 save percentage in six lifetime meetings with the Stars.