Preds look to return to winning ways against Jackets
Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 10:24 AMBLUE JACKETS (9-20-4) at PREDATORS (17-12-4)
TV: FS-O (HD)
Columbus 3-6-1; Nashville 6-4-0
Nashville holds a 2-1 series edge heading into the fourth of six meetings between these Central Division rivals. The road team has posted a one-goal victory in each of the first three matchups -- including a 4-3 overtime win for each club.
On Dec. 8, Colin Wilson
scored in the extra session for the Predators, who tied the game with 12.1 seconds left in regulation. On Nov. 19, James Wisniewski
netted the OT winner to snap the Blue Jackets' 17-game losing streak in Nashville. These teams also opened the season against each other on Oct. 7, when the Preds skated to a 3-2 victory behind a goal and an assist from Ryan Suter
The Predators look to get back in the win column after their five-game winning streak was snapped with a 4-1 defeat at Washington on Tuesday. The Blue Jackets -- last in the League with 22 points -- haven't won a game in regulation since Nov. 25, when they beat Buffalo at home, 5-1.
The Blue Jackets played an unusually high-scoring affair in St. Louis on Sunday, scoring four goals against the stingy Blues and even building a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. However, they allowed the tying goal 58 seconds into the final period and three more after that, ultimately dropping a 6-4 decision. Despite hanging tough with one of the top teams in the Western Conference, Columbus couldn't seal the deal and fell to 7-4-2 when leading after two periods.
"We felt pretty comfortable," said Derek Dorsett
, who was one of four different goal-scorers. "We've got to be better in the third period. That's the bottom line.
"We're a fragile team right now. If one thing goes wrong, it seems like it just crumbles on us."
Fresh off a 4-0 homestand and winners of five straight, the Predators rolled into Washington, D.C., for their annual Fathers Trip. The timing proved to be poor, though, as the Capitals' "Big Three" of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the same game for the first time in almost 14 months, sending the Preds -- and their dads -- back to Nashville without the streak they brought with them.
Trailing 2-0 after two, Sergei Kostitsyn
cut the deficit in half with his fifth goal of the season 4:40 into the third, but that was all the offense Nashville could muster. Pekka Rinne
, the NHL's Second Star last week, was given the night off in favor of Anders Lindback
, who stopped 19 of 23 shots in defeat.
"We didn't give enough run support for Lindy," coach Barry Trotz said. "When it was 2-1, we had lots of chances to tie it up, and we didn't."
Nashville captain Shea Weber
has points in six out of his last seven, with 3 goals and 4 assists in that stretch. … Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin
has 4 assists in his last two games, while Jeff Carter
had a five-game points streak halted in St. Louis.
According to the Jackets' website, Wisniewski missed Tuesday's practice as a "maintenance day" to rest a lower-body injury he suffered in St. Louis. Goalie Curtis Sanford
(back spasms) has sat out the last two games, but is expected to practice Wednesday and could be available against the Preds, while Kristian Huselius
(groin) and Radek Martinek
(concussion) remain sidelined. … Besides defenseman Kevin Klein
, who didn't travel to Washington because of the flu, Nashville is totally healthy.
The Blue Jackets have featured 24 different goal-scorers this season, the most in the League. … The Predators' three-goal loss on Tuesday marked the first time in 11 contests that they played in a game decided by more than one goal. The 10-game streak fell two short of an NHL record, according to STATS LLC.
Struggling for scoring outside of the team's top line, Columbus coach Scott Arniel decided to shake up his top-six forwards and split up Carter and Rick Nash
for the time this season Sunday against St. Louis. Nash was put on a line with center Derick Brassard
and right wing R.J. Umberger
, while Carter centered a line with Vinny Prospal
on his left and Mark Letestu
on his right. The Blue Jackets went on to score four goals against a terrific defensive team in the Blues, but Arniel said the changes are not permanent and he will most likely continue to play the Prospal-Carter-Nash line in key situations.
"It's two things: it was to have more offense from different and more lines, and also to maybe throw the other coach off by not allowing him to get his exact matchup that he wants," Arniel told the team's website. "But also, we have people not producing, too. We need more people to get their game going.
"But I think over the long haul they'll (Nash and Carter) be good together, but with what's gone on the first 30 games, the chemistry's going to take a while to build. Being able to split them up and have success with two lines is a big bonus."