TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.
For the Nashville Predators to avoid tying a season-high four-game losing streak, they will have to beat one the league's hottest teams over the last month.
Nashville continues its four-game road trip at Nationwide Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have won 11 of their last 16.
The Predators, who lost four in a row from Dec. 28-Jan. 3, jumped out to a 2-0 lead Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings while trying to sweep a home-and-home series from them.
But Czech Olympic goaltender Tomas Vokoun allowed two goals in the second and U.S. Olympian Mathieu Schneider scored the go-ahead goal in a 3-2 loss.
Nashville has lost six of its last eight to fall nine points behind the league-leading Red Wings.
"We're in the middle of a rut right now, and we're going to have to get ourselves out of it," Nashville's Paul Kariya said. "It's a very competitive conference, and we have to win some."
The Predators have been outscored 13-4 during their current skid.
Steve Sullivan leads Nashville with 26 goals, but has not scored in four straight, matching his longest drought of the season from Oct. 26-Nov. 2 and Nov. 26-Dec. 3. He has 11 goals and 30 points in 26 games against Columbus.
The Blue Jackets gave up a goal eight seconds into Friday's game against Colorado, falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Jan Hrdina scored midway through the first period for the Blue Jackets before goaltender Marc Denis gave up two goals to Slovakian Olympian and rookie Marek Svatos early in the third.
An empty-netter by rookie Brad Richardson in the final minute closed the scoring.
"We gave one away (Friday)," Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said.
David Vyborny has tallied three goals and 11 assists in the last nine games to lead the Blue Jackets to the most successful stretch in their six-year history.
The Jackets will continue to be without high-scoring defenseman Bryan Berard until after the Olympic break due to back spasms. He has missed six games with the injury, suffered on Jan. 27, in a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Columbus has dropped four of five overall to the Predators and six of its last seven in Nashville.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 48 points, 3rd place, 33 PB, Central Division. Predators - 72 points, 2nd place, 9 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nikolai Zherdev, 18 goals; Vyborny, 28 assists and 44 points; Jody Shelley, 113 PIM. Predators - Sullivan, 26 goals; Kariya, 37 assists and 56 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 111 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 15.3 percent (49 for 321), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81 percent (308 for 380), 19th (tied). Predators - Power play: 18.5 percent (67 for 363), 9th. Penalty killing: 85.2 percent (310 for 364), 5th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Denis (15-19-0, 1 SO, 3.35 GAA); Pascal Leclaire (5-10-2, 0, 3.62). Predators - Vokoun (27-14-5, 2, 2.65); Chris Mason (5-3-1, 0, 3.25).
SEASON SERIES: Predators, 4-2.
LAST MEETING: Jan. 28; Blue Jackets, 4-3. At Columbus, Ohio, Vyborny scored two goals, including the game-winner Rostislav Klesla had three assists. Kariya had two assists for Nashville.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 8-19-2 on the road; Predators - 21-6-1 at home.
|Apr 03 '06||CBJ 3 at NSH 1||J. Chimera|
|Feb 11 '06||CBJ 2 at NSH 5||S. Upshall|
|Jan 28 '06||NSH 3 at CBJ 4||D. Vyborny|
|Jan 21 '06||CBJ 2 at NSH 7||Y. Perreault|
|Dec 23 '05||NSH 5 at CBJ 4||A. Hall|
|Dec 17 '05||CBJ 3 at NSH 7||S. Sullivan|
|Nov 23 '05||NSH 4 at CBJ 2||D. Legwand|
|Oct 26 '05||NSH 2 at CBJ 3 - OT||A. Foote|