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The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't have a pleasant trip to the West Coast, losing all three games while once again struggling to find consistent goal scoring.
The sight of their first opponent after returning home probably won't make them feel any better.
The Blue Jackets have been tormented by the Nashville Predators since they entered the NHL, a hex they'll try to overcome Thursday at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus (11-13-3) left for its three-game road trip on a high, having won consecutive games for only the second time this season. The Blue Jackets, though, came home with something much more familiar - a losing streak.
Columbus totaled two goals in defeats to San Jose and Los Angeles, then scored once in the first 58 minutes against Anaheim on Sunday. Two late goals cut the final margin to 5-3 in the defeat, but it was the 10th straight game Columbus failed to score more than three times.
"We haven't been able to manufacture goals that we had chances for," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you get on the road and get as many chances as we did, you have to capitalize on them."
A big reason for the Blue Jackets' offensive woes is their power play, as they've converted 9.9 percent on the season, worst in the league. Despite scoring once with the man advantage against the Ducks, Columbus is 2-for-40 (5.0 percent) in the last eight games.
The Blue Jackets might find more success on the power play against Nashville (14-12-2), which has allowed opponents to score 28.1 percent of the time (9-for-32) on the power play in the last six games.
Yet nothing has come easy for Columbus when it's faced the Predators. The Blue Jackets hadn't beaten Nashville in regulation in 16 consecutive meetings before Rick Nash scored twice in a 5-3 home win Oct. 17. The Predators are 16-1-1 in the last 18 matchups.
"It's nice anytime you get a win against those guys," left wing Jason Chimera said after the rare victory over the Preds. "No matter how you look at it, you can say it doesn't bother you but it's always in the back of your mind. The media brings it up all the time, so it helps you remember it."
The Blue Jackets didn't get to enjoy that win for long, as they headed to Nashville the next night and lost 6-3 behind a goal and three assists from Predators defenseman Shea Weber.
Like Columbus, Nashville hasn't been scoring much lately. The Predators have 16 goals in their last eight games, and though they're 4-3-1 in that stretch, they've dropped their last two.
Pekka Rinne fell to 6-1-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average on the season as the Predators lost 6-3 at St. Louis on Monday. A night later, Dan Ellis made his first start since Nov. 29 and suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Vancouver.
The Predators gave the Canucks six power plays, a problem Ellis says isn't anything new.
"It felt like we were short-handed the whole second period and quite a bit in the first," Ellis said. "We can't be doing that - that's been our Achilles' heel this season and we've been getting beat on the power play of other teams and that's why we're losing games."
Ellis 3-1-0 with a 1.34 GAA and two shutouts in four career starts against Columbus.
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