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Predators focused on faster start vs. Blue Jackets

by Robby Stanley

BLUE JACKETS (6-14-2) at PREDATORS (15-5-2)


NASHVILLE – The Nashville Predators will try to sweep their four-game homestand Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena.

Nashville has defeated the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers so far in its four-game home streak. Each of those victories came in overtime or a shootout. Nashville is 9-1-1 at home this season, which has been a big part of its early success.

"I think we're not any different than other teams in the League," Predators forward Olli Jokinen said. "If you have a good record at home, you go a long way. At the same time, we feel that any given night we have a chance of winning. It doesn't matter if we're playing home or away."

Nashville struggled early against Edmonton on Thursday and did not score until Filip Forsberg's game-winner in overtime.

"Our last game, we didn't play the way that we've been playing most of the year," Jokinen said. "It was a hard night. Edmonton gave us a good effort. They played well. I think last game without our goaltending, we could have been down by four or five goals after two periods."

The Predators will focus on getting off to a better start against the Blue Jackets. They had a hard practice Friday and got back to playing with a high pace.

"We've got to focus on our game," Jokinen said. "We had a good practice yesterday. We got back to work yesterday, and we've just got to be able to play our game for 60 minutes. We're a good skating team, we battle hard and we shoot the puck a lot. We play fast. If we're able to do those things, we usually have good results."

Columbus lost 5-0 to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday and will attempt to rebound against Nashville on the second night of a back-to-back. Columbus is 6-14-2 and last in the NHL standings.

The Blue Jackets recalled Kerby Rychel and Michael Chaput from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League and sent Alexander Wennberg to Springfield.

Here are the projected lineups:


Scott HartnellRyan JohansenNick Foligno

Matt CalvertBoone JennerCam Atkinson

Brian GibbonsArtem AnisimovJack Skille

Kerby RychelMichael ChaputJared Boll

Jack JohnsonDalton Prout

Jordan LeopoldDavid Savard

Tim ErixonJames Wisniewski

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Adam Cracknell, Corey Tropp

Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Ryan Murray (knee), Cody Goloubef (knee), Fedor Tyutin (knee), Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery), Mark Letestu (groin)


Filip ForsbergMike RibeiroJames Neal

Colin WilsonCalle JarnkrokCraig Smith

Olli JokinenMike FisherDerek Roy

Eric NystromPaul GaustadTaylor Beck

Roman JosiShea Weber

Anton VolchenkovSeth Jones

Mattias EkholmRyan Ellis

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

Scratched: Gabriel Bourque, Victor Bartley

Injured: Matt Cullen (upper body), Viktor Stalberg (lower body)

Status report: Rychel and Chaput are in the lineup, with Rychel making his NHL debut. ... Columbus did not hold a morning skate Saturday after playing Friday against Vancouver. ... Nashville held an optional morning skate.

Who's hot: Johansen leads Columbus with 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) in 22 games. ... Rinne has won five games in a row and nine of his past 10.

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