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GAME DAY: Nashville

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

BLUE JACKETS (13-12-6) AT PREDATORS (12-13-6)



The Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators find themselves in similar positions entering a pivotal Central Division showdown tonight at Bridgestone Arena. With the Western Conference standings packed air tight with less than 20 games to play, every game and every point proves to be more valuable - and such is the case this evening as these two clubs meet for the second time this week.

On one hand, the Blue Jackets are riding high after a 5-1 win last night over the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena. The night before, it was the Predators who took two points from the Flames with a 5-3 win of their own on home ice and pulled themselves a little closer to the eighth and final playoff berth in the West. As if these two clubs could not been any more identical entering tonight's game, only two points separate them with three more games between them remaining on the schedule.

Needless to say, tonight's game should be nothing short of entertaining.

These two teams don't like each other and have had some battles over the years, but for whatever reason, the Blue Jackets have never been able to consistently win games in the Music City. They've won six times in 36 tries all-time at Bridgestone Arena, the most recent coming on opening night (Jan. 19, 2013) in a shootout with Derick Brassard notching the game-winner in extra innings. Prior to that, it was James Wisniewski's memorable one-timer in overtime that propelled the Jackets to a much-needed victory -- but neither games holds a candle to tonight's game in terms of importance.

Much like the Blue Jackets did on their recently-completed home stand (4-0-1), the Predators have to make some noise on home ice to get back in the race and it started the other night against Calgary. Nashville figures to be a hungry, aggressive bunch tonight and will give the Blue Jackets their best - but as they've done so often, the Blue Jackets have proven up to the task and handled whatever opponents toss their way.

- The Blue Jackets have extended their franchise-record point streak to twelve games (8-0-4) and have moved up into ninth place in the Western Conference standings.

- Nick Foligno set a new Blue Jackets record in the second period on Friday by scoring goals 0:51 apart. The previous record for quickest two goals by a single player was held by R.J. Umberger (1:29, 2/17/09 vs. Dallas).

- Colton Gillies recorded his first point of the season 16:56 into the first period, assisting on a goal by Jared Boll. Gilles then scored his first goal of 2012-13 at the 13:14 mark of the third period to finishing the game with 1-1-2 and register the first multi-point game of his NHL career.

Roman Josi
2013 STATS: 4-10-14, 31 GP

When Ryan Suter departed via free agency this past summer, the Predators looked within to see if one of their many talented young defensemen could step up and take some Suter's minutes and responsibility. Of course, it's difficult to replace a guy like Suter, but Josi - who played well in his rookie year last season - was up to the task. He's played alongside captain Shea Weber for most of the Predators' 31 games this year and has shown some offensive upside with 14 points so far.

COLUMBUS: James Wisniewski (foot), Brandon Dubinsky (undisclosed), Derek Dorsett (fractured clavicle)

NASHVILLE: Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, Paul Gaustad

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