Blue Jackets-Predators Preview
GAME: Columbus Blue Jackets (23-42-8-4) at Nashville Predators (35-28-11-3).
TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.
Scott Walker is now the Nashville Predators' all-time points leader.
However, he'd much rather help lead his team to its first playoff appearance.
The Predators look to improve their chance for a postseason berth as they
host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Walker assisted on two goals Thursday in the Predators' 4-2 win over the New
York Rangers, passing Cliff Ronning for first on Nashville's all-time list with
Walker, who has three goals and two assists in his last four games, also
scored his 100th NHL goal in the Predators' 4-1 loss to Anaheim on Tuesday.
"I didn't know those things because there's so much pressure on us to do
well right now," he said. "The last thing I'm thinking about is how many
points I got. I always said I'd give up so many points to be 10 points clear
(in the standings)."
Nashville, which has won just twice in its last 10 games (2-4-3-1), set a
new team record with its 35th win. The Predators won 34 in 2000-01, their third
season in the NHL.
"With the win, maybe it'll give us that boost," Walker said. "What a
thrill at the end of the rainbow if we keep this going, get a few more wins
here and get in."
The Predators are in eighth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead
of ninth-place St. Louis with five games remaining. This game is their third in
a stretch of five games against teams that are not contending for a playoff
"They're all playing for next year," forward Jim McKenzie said. "They
don't want to see us get in. Nobody is happy for anybody to get in."
Steve Sullivan had three assists against the Rangers, giving him two goals
and 12 assists in his last 11 games, and eight goals and 19 assists in 19 since
being acquired from Chicago.
The Blue Jackets beat the Mighty Ducks 3-1 on Friday for their third
straight victory since a team-record eight-game losing streak.
Rookie Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist, giving him 12 points in his
last eight games. David Vyborny and Tyler Wright also scored for Columbus,
which is one point ahead of last-place Chicago in the Western Conference.
Blue Jackets enforcer Jody Shelley will serve the second game of his
three-game suspension for sucker-punching Minnesota's Alex Henry on Wednesday.
STANDINGS: Blue Jackets - 58 points, 4th place, 43 PB, Central Division.
Predators - 84 points, 2nd place, 17 PB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Blue Jackets - Rick Nash, 39 goals and 53 points; David
Vyborny, 31 assists; Shelley, 228 PIM. Predators - Walker, 24 goals; Sullivan,
47 assists and 70 points; Jordin Tootoo, 127 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 25): Blue Jackets - Power play: 14.7 percent
(55 for 373), 25th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (265 for 313), 7th.
Predators - Power play: 17.3 percent (70 for 404), 11th. Penalty killing: 81.6
percent (275 for 337), 25th.
GOALTENDERS: Blue Jackets - Marc Denis (19-34-7, 5 SO, 2.58 GAA); Fred
Brathwaite (4-10-1, 0, 3.21). Predators - Tomas Vokoun (32-27-10, 3, 2.56);
Chris Mason (3-4-1, 1, 2.28).
SEASON SERIES: Predators, 4-1.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 16; Blue Jackets, 4-2. At Columbus, Manny Malhotra scored
two goals, both in the Blue Jackets' three-goal first period, and Denis stopped
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blue Jackets - 6-26-4-2 on the road; Predators - 21-9-7-1