|NSH||1||2||1||(0 - 0)||4|
|CBJ||0||0||0||(0 - 0)||0|
PREDATORS (12-10-2) at BLUE JACKETS (9-12-3)
TV: FS-TN, FS-O
Last 10: Nashville 5-5-0; Columbus 4-3-3
Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Nashville Predators and the Columbus Blue Jackets, who were Central Division rivals for years prior to realignment. The Predators owned the Blue Jackets for a long stretch, but not last season when Columbus swept the four-game series. Sergei Bobrovsky allowed just seven goals in the four wins.
Big story: The Blue Jackets have taken their time getting accustomed to life in the Metropolitan Division, but they're only three points out of a Stanley Cup Playoff berth entering Wednesday. The Predators are five points ahead of them in the overall standings, but playing in the Western Conference leaves them six points back of the cutoff line.
The Blue Jackets are hopeful that at least one of their injured forwards is able to return for Wednesday's game against the Predators. Brandon Dubinsky, who hasn't played since being injured in a 7-0 loss to Edmonton last week, returned home from the team's Canadian road trip to get treatment on his bruised foot.
While his status for Wednesday's game remains unclear, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards sounded optimistic that Dubinsky would be available sometime in the not-too-distant future. On the other hand, it doesn't look like Derek MacKenzie or Jared Boll will suit up against the Predators.
On defense, the Blue Jackets also have to make some decisions. James Wisniewski returned to the lineup on Monday in Toronto as did Dalton Prout (back spasms), and Nikita Nikitin left Monday's game with an injury after blocking a shot. The Blue Jackets still have Tim Erixon with the club to serve as the seventh defenseman.
Look for Sergei Bobrovsky to man the net after his 18-save shutout of the Maple Leafs.
Who could forget the last time the Blue Jackets hosted the Nashville Predators?
One of the more memorable games in franchise history took place at Nationwide Arena on Apr. 27, 2013, a game that Columbus had to win in order to keep its Stanley Cup playoff hopes alive. The Predators, with virtually nothing to play for, were the rude party guests and had every intention of crashing a rocking atmosphere inside a sold-out Nationwide Arena.
The Predators came out strong in the opening period and nearly took the lead heading into intermission - but Sergei Bobrovsky was rock solid between the pipes and his first-period work included a seven-save sequence that made several highlight reels. Shea Weber would break the ice in the second period, sending a nervous chill throughout the building as the Blue Jackets pressed hard, but were unable to beat Chris Mason until late in the game.
Dubinsky, Jack Johnson and Cam Atkinson scored in the final 10 minutes to propel the Blue Jackets to their 19th win in 29 games to close out the regular season, but in the end, they fell a tiebreaker short of the postseason. And while the "rivalry" with Nashville isn't what it once was because of NHL realignment, these two teams won't need much time to get re-acquainted once the puck drops on Wednesday.
Even without Pekka Rinne, the Predators are playing solid hockey of late and have played well away from the Music City. Using a handful of goaltenders, Barry Trotz has found a recipe that's allowing Nashville to tread water until (hopefully) Rinne is medically cleared to return to action from an infection in his hip.
They added several players in the offseason to boost an offense that held them back at times last season, but the Predators are still waiting for Viktor Stalberg (signed from Chicago) to get going. Matt Cullen has been a nice fit, as has the physical presence of Eric Nystrom. Their young players, in particular Colin Wilson, have taken a step forward and provided a solid secondary layer for the offense which has relived a bit of pressure on their power play.
VS. EDMONTON OILERS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.
|Mar 08 '14|
|Nov 27 '13||NSH 4 at CBJ 0||M. Cullen|