A record-setting regular season has earned the Columbus Blue Jackets their third-ever trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Despite having the third-most points in the Eastern Conference, the unique playoff format has the Blue Jackets set to do battle with the second-best team in the East, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in a best-of-seven opening-round series.
The Blue Jackets (50-24-8, 108 points) finished just three points behind the Penguins (50-21-11) in the Metropolitan Division standings, but that difference proved critical, as Pittsburgh gets home-ice advantage for the series.
The first-round schedule was released early Monday morning, and the Eastern Conference quarterfinals will get underway at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, April 12, when the Penguins host the Blue Jackets in Game 1.
Here is a look at the complete first-round schedule for the Blue Jackets against the Penguins.
Game 1: Wednesday, April 12, 7:30 p.m. (in Pittsburgh)
Game 2: Friday, April 14, 7 p.m. (in Pittsburgh)
Game 3: Sunday, April 16, 6 p.m. (in Columbus)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m. (in Columbus)
Game 5: Thursday, April 20 (in Pittsburgh)*
Game 6: Sunday, April 23 (in Columbus)*
Game 7: Tuesday, April 25 (in Pittsburgh)*
Although the Blue Jackets do not have a deep playoff history, having lost in the first round in each of their previous two trips, they have done battle with the Penguins before, pushing Pittsburgh to six games before bowing out of competition in 2014.
The Blue Jackets and Penguins split the regular-season series with both teams protecting home-ice advantage and winning two games in front of their fans while falling twice on the road.
The Blue Jackets won the opening game of the series on December 22 by a 7-1 count. The late December win came in the midst of Columbus’ franchise-record 16-game winning streak that saw the team go undefeated from late November through early January.
Following a 4-3 loss in overtime at PPG Paints Arena on February 3, the Blue Jackets responded with a 2-1 overtime victory just two weeks later.
The Penguins won the regular-season finale by a 4-1 count on April 4.