NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, December 31st
(All times eastern)
Nashville Predators (23-14-3) at Columbus Blue Jackets (15-18-8), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The good news for the Blue Jackets is that tonight's game
isn't on the road. The bad news is that it is against the Predators.
Columbus will try to halt a four-game losing streak to Nashville Thursday
evening at Nationwide Arena.
Little has gone right for the Blue Jackets for the most part this season.
Fresh off their first-ever playoff appearance, they currently stand 14th in
the Western Conference with just 38 points thanks to losses in 10 of 11 and 18
of their last 21 games.
Columbus will hope a return home, where it is 9-6-4 this year, can help it get
on track since the club hasn't had much luck on the road. Tuesday's 2-1
shootout setback to the New York Islanders was its 12th straight defeat
(0-8-4) on road ice.
R.J. Umberger earned his team the point with his 13th goal of the season in
the third period, but Steve Mason, who made 24 saves, was bested by Rob
Schremp in the third round of the shootout.
"This little stretch before the [Olympic] break, we're going to have to win as
many games as we can if we want to make up some ground," said Columbus forward
Former Washington captain Chris Clark and defenseman Milan Jurcina both made
their Blue Jackets debut on Tuesday after being acquired a day earlier from
the Capitals in exchange for veteran forward Jason Chimera.
Columbus hasn't had much luck versus Nashville as of late either. Its current
series losing streak includes a setback in all three meetings this year, a
pair of 4-3 shootout defeats in Nashville before a 5-3 home loss on December
Overall, the Predators have won nine of the last 12 meetings between the clubs
and their recent win in Columbus ended a three-game skid there. Nashville has
still won eight of its last 12 in Ohio.
The Predators halted a three-game skid on Tuesday with a 4-3 triumph over the
Blues. Nashville led 3-1 at one point, but the Blues tallied the game's final
two goals before the Preds held on to win.
"They seemed to get a bit of momentum early in the third period," said
Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "But we settled down and eventually got back
to playing our game."
Shea Weber assisted on three goals and J.P. Dumont was credited with the game-
winning goal. Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward also scored and Pekka
Rinne turned aside 24 shots in the victory.
Martin Erat did leave Tuesday's win with a knee injury that leaves him
doubtful for tonight. He has a team high 14 goals and 27 points this season.
Nashville has won five of its last seven on the road and concludes a three-
game road trip tonight. It is 11-7-2 as the guest this year and is six points
back of Chicago for first place in the Central Division.
12/31 10:47:10 ET