After a rough start, the Nashville Predators have turned things around. Facing the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second straight time might help them continue their surge.
The Predators look for their 10th consecutive win over the struggling Blue Jackets in the finale of a home-and-home series Monday night at Nationwide Arena.
Nashville (8-7-1) won 4-3 in a shootout over Columbus on Saturday, and will try to earn a point in its sixth straight contest Monday. The Predators, 6-1-1 since losing six of their first eight games, can tie the Blue Jackets (8-5-3) in the Central Division standings with a regulation victory Monday.
Columbus, looking to avoid a fourth straight loss since a 5-0-1 stretch, beat Nashville 3-1 on April 3, 2006 for its most recent win in the series.
Nashville will be trying for its fifth straight victory in Columbus. The Blue Jackets, though, are 5-1-1 at home and have won three in a row at Nationwide.
"We are going into the lion's den," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We will have to get at it again and play a better game. We were 8-0 against Columbus last season. They wanted to come in here and set the record straight that it isn't going to happen again. They are playing with plenty of hunger. We will have to play a much better game."
Nashville's Martin Erat was the only player to score in the shootout Saturday. Radek Bonk and Marek Zidlicky had power-play goals and Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Predators, who have outscored opponents 18-9 in their last five games.
Chris Mason made 36 saves for Nashville on Saturday and seems likely to be back in net Monday. Mason is 5-1-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average versus Columbus.
Though the Blue Jackets rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force overtime Saturday, the loss resulted in an 0-2-1 finish on a road trip that included matchups with division rivals Chicago and Detroit. Columbus is in the midst of a stretch of eight consecutive games versus Central opponents.
Curtis Glencross scored his first goal of the season and also had an assist, while Nikolai Zherdev added his fifth goal Saturday for the Blue Jackets.
"This was a big building block for us with the big come-from-behind performance in the third period," said forward Manny Malhotra, who will try to record a point in his third straight matchup with Nashville.
After playing well late in Saturday's game, Columbus hopes it's on track to finally end its drought against the Predators.
"Other than the first two minutes, when we took some penalties, we played great hockey," said coach Ken Hitchcock, whose team has been outscored 13-6 during its slide. "We deserved two points. We talk about learning lessons. We have to get points from teams like Nashville."
Pascal Leclaire could be back in goal Monday after briefly relieving Fredrik Norrena on Saturday. Leclaire, who has a 1.40 GAA and league-leading five shutouts, was in net for a 4-1 loss at Detroit on Friday. He has yet to lose consecutive starts this season, although he's 1-4-0 with a 4.73 GAA in six starts versus the Predators.