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Predators-Blue Jackets Preview @NHLdotcom
Predators-Blue Jackets Preview

GAME: Nashville Predators (22-7-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (9-24-1).

TIME: Friday, 7 p.m. EST.

Steve Sullivan helped the Predators' longest road trip of the season get off to the best possible start.

Now he will try to extend a pair of personal streaks when Nashville continues its five-game swing against the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets.

Sullivan pushed his goal-scoring streak to a career-best five games in Nashville's 6-1 blowout Wednesday of the Chicago Blackhawks.

But he seems to save some of his best games for the Blue Jackets. The diminutive right wing has four goals and six assists during a six-game points streak against Columbus.

Overall, he has 11 goals - including two on the power play, two short-handed and two game-winners - and 17 assists in 23 games against them.

One of the best games of Sullivan's career came Feb. 15, 2003, against the Blue Jackets when he had a goal and four assists in a 7-1 win.

Paul Kariya had two goals and an assist in the win over Chicago. Four of Kariya's seven career goals against Columbus have come on the power play.

While Nashville is within two points of the first-place Detroit Red Wings, Columbus is trying to snap a five-game losing streak and avoid becoming the league's worst team.

Goaltender Pascal Leclaire gave up Philiipe Boucher's second goal and two to Stu Barnes in a 3:59 span of the third period of a 5-3 loss Wednesday to the Dallas Stars.

"We didn't show up in the third period," said Rick Nash, who scored his third goal in as many games after missing 17 with a knee injury. He also missed time with an ankle injury suffered in training camp.

Nash has four goals and three assists during a six-game points streak against Nashville.

Sergei Fedorov, acquired earlier this season from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, has not scored a goal in seven games. He has 13 goals in 32 career games against the Predators.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 22): Predators - 47 points, 2nd place, 2 PB, Central Division. Blue Jackets - 19 points, 4th place, 30 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Sullivan, 16 goals and 31 points; Kimmo Timonen, 21 assists; Darcy Hordichuk, 87 PIM. Blue Jackets - Nikolai Zherdev, 9 goals; David Vyborny, 14 assists and 21 points; Jody Shelley, 67 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 22): Predators - Power play: 18.4 percent (40 for 217), tied for 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 86.3 percent (183 for 212), 3rd. Blue Jackets - Power play: 11.9 percent (23 for 194), 30th. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (200 for 240), 11th.

GOALTENDERS: Predators - Tomas Vokoun (17-5-2, 1 SO, 2.46 GAA); Chris Mason (4-1-1, 2.81). Blue Jackets - Leclaire (2-8-1, 3.72); Marc Denis (4-13-0, 3.43).

SEASON SERIES: Predators, 2-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 17; Predators, 7-3. At Nashville, Tenn., Dan Hamhuis had three assists and the Predators got goals from seven players.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Predators - 6-4-3 on the road; Blue Jackets - 6-10-0 at home.

Associated Press
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