NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 10th
(All times eastern)
Columbus Blue Jackets (14-11-5) at Nashville Predators (17-11-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Columbus Blue Jackets were able to cruise to a victory
in their most recent game. History says the team may have a tougher time when
it pays a visit to the Sommet Center tonight for a Central Division clash with
the Nashville Predators.
Columbus has lost in each of its last 12 visits to the Music City and is a
horrid 2-21 with one tie in 24 games at the Sommet Center since the start of
the 2001-02 campaign. The Blue Jackets did at least earn a point in their
latest trip to Nashville, a 4-3 shootout setback on November 21.
That defeat was the first of eight losses in a nine-game span for the Blue
Jackets, but the slumping club got itself back on track with last night's
shutout win over the visiting Florida Panthers. Steve Mason stopped all 32
shots he faced in Columbus' 3-0 decision to record his first shutout of the
Mason delivered a league-best 10 shutouts in 2008-09 en route to capturing the
Calder Trophy honoring the NHL's top rookie.
"Yeah it's kind of been laying on me the past little while," said Mason of his
early-season struggles. "You know, obviously every goaltender likes a couple
goose-eggs throughout the year and I had trouble getting the first one, but
it's nice to get it out of the way."
Jason Chimera staked the Jackets to a 1-0 lead with 1:41 left in the first
period, with Derrick Brassard and Samuel Pahlsson each scoring in the final
frame to provide some insurance.
Columbus will also be out to snap a five-game road losing streak tonight and
improve on a 6-7-2 record as the guest this season.
The Predators are in the midst of a four-game homestand and have split the
first two matchups of the residency, bouncing back from Saturday's 5-3 loss to
Minnesota with a 4-2 triumph over Vancouver on Tuesday.
Martin Erat led the charge for Nashville by netting his second career hat
trick, while goaltender Pekka Rinne made 16 of his 34 saves during a busy
"It's always nice to get a hat trick," said Erat afterward. "But we got two
points and that's the most important thing for us right now."
The Predators currently stand in second place in the Central, five points
behind the scorching Chicago Blackhawks for the top spot. Nashville will host
third-place Detroit on Saturday in the finale of this stretch of home games.
Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan each finished with two assists in Tuesday's
win, which improved the Predators to 10-3-1 since November 12. Erat has played
a big part in the team's success over that span, with the Czech wing having
scored eight goals in his past 10 outings and amassing eight points (5 goals,
3 assists) during a four-game scoring streak.
12/10 10:30:52 ET