NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, February 27th (All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (31-23-6) at Nashville Predators (31-23-8), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Predators are one of the teams that the Blue Jackets are chasing in the Western Conference. It might not be long before those roles are reversed if Columbus can find a way to finally win in Nashville.
The Blue Jackets start up a five-game swing this afternoon aiming for a seventh straight road victory, but arrive at Bridgestone Arena riding a 15- game series road slide to the Predators.
Columbus has won three straight and is 5-0-1 over its last six games to pull within three points of a playoff spot. Nashville is two points up on the Blue Jackets and one back of eighth-place Calgary in the Western Conference.
The Blue Jackets got a big lift Friday from rookie Matt Calvert, who came into his 20th NHL contest without a multi-goal game under his belt, but notched a natural hat trick as part of five straight goals for Columbus in a 5-3 victory over Phoenix.
Calvert scored in his third straight game and completed his hat trick 3:27 into the third period.
"Some nights you feel better than others and some nights you are battling the puck. Tonight I just felt patient and there were a lot of great plays by my linemates to help me out," Calvert said. "The puck just kind of followed me around tonight and especially on that third one. I missed the wide open net there and it came back to me. It was a pretty special night and definitively one I will remember."
R.J. Umberger had a goal and two assists and Mathieu Garon made 25 saves for Columbus, which is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games. Rick Nash had an assist to give him five goals and six helpers over a six-game point streak.
Nash scored twice and Steve Mason made 20 saves in a 4-0 home win over Nashville on Tuesday. The teams have split four meetings so far this year, but the Preds have still won eight of the past 11.
The teams have met just once in Nashville this season, a 4-1 Predators win on Jan. 2. The Blue Jackets haven't won on the road in this series since April 3, 2006 and have just two wins and a tie in their last 27 trips to Nashville.
The Predators will hope their past home dominance of the Blue Jackets can come into play today as they hope to snap a four-game losing streak. Nashville's skid was extended on Saturday with a 3-2 loss in Dallas. The Preds led by a goal heading into the third period, but surrendered two tallies in the final frame.
Colin Wilson tallied a goal and an assist and Ryan Suter also scored for the Predators, who did avoid a third straight shutout loss. Nashville has been outscored 13-4 over its losing streak.
"Winning hockey games is fun and that's what we've got to start doing," Nashville center David Legwand said.
Pekka Rinne made 22 saves for Nashville.
Defenseman Craig Rivet is expected to make his Blue Jackets debut after being claimed off re-entry waivers from Buffalo on Saturday. The former Sabres captain has 236 points and 1,148 penalty minutes in 909 career games, but has played in just 23 games this season as was a frequent healthy scratch in Buffalo.
02/27 10:31:21 ET