Blue Jackets-Predators Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (9-22-0) at Nashville Predators (19-7-3).
TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.
Pekka Rinne could get his second straight start in goal for the Nashville Predators when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Nashville has started four goalies this season and its latest, Rinne, made 35 saves in his first NHL start as the Predators beat Chicago 5-3 on Thursday to snap a three-game losing streak.
Rinne's start came one day after he was recalled from Milwaukee of the AHL.
Brian Finley got his first career start for the Predators on Tuesday after Chris Mason pulled a groin in pregame warmups, and gave up seven goals on 41 shots in a loss to Florida. That prompted Nashville to give Rinne the chance against the Blackhawks.
"They told me at the morning skate that I was going to start," Rinne said. "After they told me, it was a pretty normal game day for me. I was so excited. When they drop the puck you don't have time to think about anything. If you do, then you are going to get beat."
Nashville has been looking for a replacement since starting goalie Tomas Vokoun sprained his right knee on Dec. 8. Mason has started six games, and his injury isn't considered serious, but he wasn't ready to play Thursday.
"With the two new goalies, we have to give them support," Predators center Vernon Fiddler said. "It is an adjustment to come to Nashville. We didn't give Finley a lot of help. We played a little better in front of Pekka and he really stood in there."
The Blue Jackets' offensive woes continued in a 2-1 loss to Carolina on Thursday. The NHL's lowest-scoring team with 59 goals, Columbus has lost two straight and three of its last four.
"We didn't play a bad game, but they played well," said goalie Pascal Leclaire, who made 30 saves against the Hurricanes. "In the end, we lost."
Michael Rupp scored his first goal of the season, but Columbus was again held without a power-play goal. The Blue Jackets were 0-for-4 with the advantage and failed to score when they had a 5-on-3 at the end of the first period.
Columbus is 3-for-22 on the power play over the last four games.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 18 points, 4th place, 27 PB, Central Division. Predators - 41 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Nikolai Zherdev, 8 goals; David Vyborny, Bryan Berard and Manny Malhotra, 13 assists; Vyborny and Berard, 19 points; Jody Shelley, 65 PIM. Predators - Steve Sullivan, 13 goals; Kimmo Timonen, 17 assists; Sullivan and Paul Kariya, 26 points; Darcy Hordichuk, 87 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Blue Jackets - Power play: 11.8 percent (21 for 177), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.4 percent (179 for 217), 16th. Predators - Power play: 18 percent (35 for 194), 13th. Penalty killing: 86.3 percent (171 for 198), 4th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (4-12-0, 3.20 GAA); Leclaire (2-7-0, 3.71). Predators - Rinne (1-0-0, 3.00); Mason (3-1-1, 3.13).
SEASON SERIES: 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 23; Predators, 4-2. At Columbus, Ohio, Mason made 35 saves as the Predators handed the Blue Jackets their sixth loss in a row.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 3-13-0 on the road; Predators - 14-3-0 at home.