BLUE JACKETS (13-12-6) at PREDATORS (12-13-6)
TV: FS-Ohio; FS-Tennessee
Last 10: Columbus 8-0-2; Nashville 3-6-1
Season series: It's the third of five meetings and the second one this week. Columbus opened the season with a 3-2 shootout victory at Nashville, then beat the Predators 4-3 on Tuesday at Nationwide Arena.
Big story: The Blue Jackets are riding the best streak in franchise history, an 8-0-4 run that have moved them over the .500 mark and into the heart of the playoff race, But the Blue Jackets did much of that at home (7-0-2 at Nationwide Arena; 1-0-2 away), and they begin a four-game trip with a stop at Bridgestone Arena, where they've won only six of 36 visits. The Predators, who have 11 of their last 17 at home, need to build on Thursday's 5-3 win against Calgary.
Blue Jackets: Most of Columbus' success during its hot streak has come in one-goal game. Not so on Friday, when the Blue Jackets wrapped up a stretch in which they played nine of 10 games at home by burying the Calgary Flames 5-1. It was a 1-1 game until the Jackets set a franchise record by scoring three times in a span of 75 seconds to blow the game wide open and extend the franchise-record points streak to 12 games.
"I think if you ask anybody in the hockey world, they probably never would have imagined this," coach Todd Richards said of the streak. "All we did was take it game by game."
But now things get tough. Beginning with the game in Nashville, Columbus plays 12 of its final 17 away from home.
"We understood if we were going to make a push for playoffs that it was going to have to come from our homestand," said forward Nick Foligno, who scored the first two of the three goals during the outburst. "We've put ourselves in a great position but our job's not done."
Said Columbus coach Todd Richards: "We are a pretty confident group but I guarantee Nashville will be ready."
Predators: Unlike the Blue Jackets, Nashville has spent most of March on the road. They began a four-game homestand by overcoming a pair of one-goal deficits to beat Calgary 5-3 on Thursday. The victory was balm after a 1-5-0 road trip during which the Predators' usually strong defense leaked badly. Mike Fisher scored twice against the Flames and linemate Martin Erat added a goal and a pair of assists.
After a shaky start, the Predators looked more like their old selves in the final two periods against Calgary.
"We talked about that -- let that part go, let the road trip go and see if we can build something here at home," coach Barry Trotz said.
Who's hot: Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is 7-0-2 in his last nine games with a pair of shutouts. … Nashville defenseman Roman Josi has seven points during a career-high four-game scoring streak. Both Nashville goaltenders have excellent career numbers against Columbus. Pekka Rinne is 14-5-2 with a pair of shutouts, while Chris Mason has a 16-4-2 career record with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.
Injury report: Columbus is without defenseman James Wisniewski (broken foot) and Derek Dorsett (shoulder), both of whom are on injured reserve. Brandon Dubinsky (lower body) didn't play Friday. … Nashville is missing two of its top forwards, Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson, with upper-body injuries. Center Paul Gaustad (upper body) is on IR.
|Back to top|