Blue Jackets host Predators tonight on FOX Sports Ohio HD
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
STATS Senior Writer
After two more failures in Nashville this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets are happy to finally face the Predators at home.
The Blue Jackets will try to win their fourth straight home matchup against the Predators when the Central Division rivals meet Monday night for the second time in five days.
Nashville (18-11-3) has long been a nemesis of Columbus (14-12-6), finishing ahead of the Blue Jackets in the Central in every season before 2008-09. The Predators have also won 13 straight home meetings between the teams – two in shootouts this season including a 4-3 win Thursday.
“They’re kind of our rival,” Nashville left wing Ryan Jones said. “Anytime you play them, it’s going to be a hard-fought game, it’s going to be a battle every shift you are out there.”
The next three meetings are in Columbus, beginning Monday. The Blue Jackets won all three matchups at Nationwide Arena last season.
“Thank God we’re not playing there again,” Columbus defenseman Mike Commodore said. “That building is cursed for the Blue Jackets. We’ve played well there and just can’t seem to win. But now, it’s our turn. We’re at home, so we need to flex our muscles a little bit and take advantage of our surroundings.”
Columbus wasn’t able to take advantage of home ice Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Anaheim, which entered with an eight-game road losing streak. R.J. Umberger had the lone goal as the Blue Jackets lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
The Blue Jackets haven’t scored more than three goals in six December games, and are hoping the addition of left wing Fredrik Modin will help end those woes. Modin made his season debut Saturday after being out with a knee injury.
Modin is in his fourth season with the club, but the last two have been shortened by injuries. He scored 22 goals for Columbus in 2006-07, before totaling 15 over 73 games the following two seasons.
“It’s going to be a big help. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be a good player,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He’s going to be a good addition.”
Columbus will try to slow down Martin Erat, who had a five-game point streak snapped Saturday in Nashville’s 3-2 overtime loss at home to Detroit. Erat, who had nine points in his run, has six goals during an active five-game streak against the Blue Jackets.
The Predators will aim for a better start after getting outshot 14-5 in the first period Saturday.
“I think we came out a little bit slower, there wasn’t a lot of foot and leg movement for our side in the first period,” Jones said. “I think that was evident by the shots.”
Jones had a goal and assisted on David Legwand’s tying score in the third period.
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne is 3-1-1 despite a lofty 3.52 goals-against average in five road starts this season. Rinne has won three straight shootouts against the Blue Jackets, improving to 4-1 with a 3.11 GAA in his career versus Columbus.