|For both the Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, this is a game that isn’t very difficult to get up for. The Central Division rivalry goes back to the Blue Jackets’ inception, and there have been numerous spirited barnburners over the years. |
Tonight at Bridgestone Arena, the Blue Jackets will take the ice with a much different (and happier) feeling than the last time they did so just over a month ago. As their fathers watched from the stands, the Blue Jackets put together one of their most complete road games of the season and won a thrilling 4-3 game thanks to a James Wisniewski slap shot in overtime. Though they have fond memories of that meeting with the Predators, the last matchup overall was one the Blue Jackets must soon forget.
Holding a 3-1 lead with 1:36 left in the third period, the Blue Jackets appeared ready to collect two points and get their five-game homestand off to a positive start. The Predators, their normal scrappy selves, clawed back with two goals in the final 90 seconds of regulation and got the game-winner from Colin Wilson in overtime – stunning the Blue Jackets and a lively crowd at Nationwide Arena. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel has used many moments from that game as teaching points in recent practices, and he said his team will be ready to go once the puck drops tonight.
As for the Predators, they were riding high a few days ago and in the midst of a five-game winning streak that ironically began with that comeback win in Columbus. They went on to defeat Anaheim, Calgary, Detroit and St. Louis over the next 10 days to jump into the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference. They lost 4-1 to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Verizon Center, and coach Barry Trotz was none too pleased with his team’s inability to get off to a quick start in that game.
Anders Lindback started the game in D.C. to give Pekka Rinne a much-needed night off, and it’s expected that Rinne is going to be Nashville’s starting goaltender tonight against the Blue Jackets.
| || || |
|Nash (10) ||Five tied (8) |
|Prospal (19) ||Weber (17) |
|Prospal (26) ||Weber (25) |
|Dorsett (73) ||Tootoo (47) |
|MacKenzie (+7) ||Weber (+15) |
|Sanford (5-5-3) |
|Rinne (15-9-4) |
|Sanford (2.42) ||Rinne (2.48) |
|Sanford (.914) ||Rinne (.924) || |
|• Columbus opened a stretch that has the club playing four of five and eight of 10 on the road with a loss at St. Louis this past Sunday. The road games come after the Jackets played five-straight at home. Columbus looks to rebound from a recent stretch that has seen the club go 1-4-1 its last six games. |
• Fedor Tyutin registered his first multi-point game in 17 games with three assists Sunday against the Blues. His last multi-point outing was Nov. 10 vs. Chicago. The three assist game matched a career high in assists and points. It marked his second three-assist game (Jan. 22, 2008 vs. Atlanta) and third three-point game (Mar. 9, 2010 at Anaheim).
• Tonight marks the fourth of six meetings overall and second of three meetings at Bridgestone Arena this season between the Blue Jackets and Predators. Columbus is 19-36-11 all-time against Nashville, including a 5-22-6 mark at Bridgestone Arena.
• A total of 24 players have scored at least one goal for Columbus, the most in the NHL. Buffalo is second with 22 players scoring at least one goal.
• Derick Brassard has assists in two of the last five games after registering a pair of assists Dec. 18 at St. Louis. He had been held without an assist the previous five games.
C - #11
• Nashville’s first-ever draft pick (2nd overall, 1998 draft) has become one of the top shutdown centers in the NHL, and is the Predators’ all-time leader in goals, points, games played and game-winning goals.
• Legwand has six points in his last nine games and has 18-23-41 in 53 career games against the Blue Jackets.
D Radek Martinek (upper body); indefinitely
LW Kristian Huselius (lower body); indefinitely