Predators-Blue Jackets Preview
GAME: Nashville Predators (13-10-1-0) at Columbus Blue Jackets (8-12-3-1).
TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Nashville Predators look to extend their franchise-record winning streak
to six games as they visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Nashville is 9-2 in its last 11 contests, and has emerged as one of the
hottest teams in the Western Conference after a slow start.
Scott Hartnell scored 3:30 into overtime Wednesday as the Predators pulled
out a 2-1 victory over Carolina.
"It's nice to be a part of some history," said goaltender Tomas Vokoun,
who stopped 40 of 41 shots. "Our team is a young team and we don't have a lot
of records set. That's a lot of wins to put together in this league. It's a
great momentum builder."
Nashville's latest surge has moved them into third place in the Central
Division, only five points behind first-place Detroit.
"It's fulfilling that we've done something special as a group," coach
Barry Trotz said. "But we haven't done anything yet. We can be all excited
about winning, but you've got to keep everything in perspective.
"We'll exhale after game No. 82 and then we'll see where we are."
The Blue Jackets have not fared as well as the Predators, but the debut of a
talented youngster has fans excited in Columbus.
Rookie forward Nikolai Zherdev will play just his second career game against
The 19-year-old made his much-anticipated NHL debut Tuesday as Rick Nash had
a goal and an assist to lead the Blue Jackets past Anaheim 2-1.
Zherdev, the fourth overall pick in last summer's draft, had to sneak away
from his professional team in Russia. He flew into Columbus on Monday and took
his first NHL shift 40 seconds into Tuesday's game.
"I felt very, very welcome. I even saw some signs that said, `Welcome
Nikolai,"' said Zherdev. "Columbus is great. I feel very, very great."
Columbus would love Zherdev to develop as quickly as Nash has.
Nash, who had 17 goals in 74 games as a rookie last season, already has 16
in only 24 games this year. The No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft ran his
point-scoring streak to six games.