Blue Jackets-Predators Preview

The Columbus Blue Jackets used a strong five-game homestand to

aid their playoff push, and the Nashville Predators are hoping to

turn in similar results on their current four-game stretch at

home.

The Blue Jackets are in search of a fourth straight victory as

they start a four-game trip Saturday night looking to improve to

3-0-0 against the Predators this season.

Columbus (13-12-6) won 5-1 over Calgary behind Nick Foligno’s

two goals Friday to cap a 3-0-2 homestand. The Blue Jackets are

8-0-4 during a franchise-record 12-game point streak.

The club plays 12 of its final 17 games on the road in its bid

for the franchise’s second postseason berth.

“Now I think we have 12 games on the road to finish up the

season, that’s going to be important,” Foligno said. “But I think

we’re the type of team that’s built to play on the road, we’re a

gritty, physical team.”

Nashville (12-13-6), meanwhile, has 11 of its final 17 at home.

The Predators returned from a 1-5-0 trip and won 5-3 over the

Flames on Thursday to begin this homestand.

“We talked about that, let that part go, let the road trip go

and see if we can build something here at home,” coach Barry Trotz

said.

These teams met four nights ago when Columbus had four different

skaters score with Vinny Prospal finishing with three assists in a

4-3 victory.

That contest marks the last time center Craig Smith saw action

for the Predators, with Trotz benching him Thursday before he was

sent to Milwaukee of the AHL on Friday.

“Craig is a good, young player but you can’t be a good, young

player playing that poorly,” Trotz said. “He didn’t have a good

road trip, and I just felt it was really an accountability

thing.”

Martin Erat had a goal and two assists, Mike Fisher scored twice

and Roman Josi and Kevin Klein each had two assists against

Calgary.

“The most important thing is we got the two points,” Erat said.

“We had a couple of bad mistakes the last three, four games, and it

happens. It is a long season and we bounced back today.”

Josi has seven points over a career-high four-game streak.

Pekka Rinne is suddenly struggling for Nashville, going 1-2-0

with a 4.60 goals-against average in his last five starts – getting

pulled early twice. It’s surprising for a goalie with a league-high

five shutouts.

Sergei Bobrovsky, meanwhile, improved to 7-0-2 in his last nine

starts with 24 saves Friday for the Blue Jackets.

Bobrovsky has been part of a penalty-kill unit that has killed

off 36 of opponents’ last 37 chances, with the lone tally a 5-on-3

goal by Detroit’s Johan Franzen on March 10. Nashville is at 26.2

percent on the power play at home for one of the league’s best

marks.

Columbus won 3-2 in a shootout at Nashville in the opener Jan.

19, improving to 2-14-5 in its last 21 visits to the Bridgestone

Arena.

“We are a pretty confident group but I guarantee Nashville will

be ready,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said.

Center Brandon Dubinsky sat out Friday with an undisclosed

injury for the Blue Jackets.