Preview #47: Predators visit Columbus
Nashville Predators 26-16-4
Columbus Blue Jackets 13-27-5
The Nashville Predators visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night for the fifth of six regular season meetings between the two clubs.
On Tuesday night, the Predators were shutout 3-0 by the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak. Anders Lindback was in goal for Nashville as Pekka Rinne had the night off. The Blue Jackets won their Tuesday night game against the Edmonton Oilers in a come-from-behind win, doubling the Oilers 4-2.
Columbus is 8-12-3 at Nationwide Arena. Thursday’s game against Nashville is just the second, and last, home game in the month of January for the Blue Jackets, who are last in the NHL with only 31 points.
Despite the loss on Tuesday, the Predators are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, outscoring their opponent 29-20, with Rinne putting up some impressive numbers. In his last nine starts, Rinne has a 1.85 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage. With a 24-11-5 record on the season, Rinne ranks second in the League in wins, saves (1, 141) and appearances (41).
Rinne, who is 12-4-1 against the Blue Jackets, is likely to return to action Thursday.
The Predators are expected to be without All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter Thursday night. Suter told Dan Rosen from NHL.com that he would not play against the Blue Jackets and confirmed he did not have a head injury. With Chris Mueller being reassigned to Milwaukee Wednesday afternoon, it is likely Jerred Smithson is close to returning to the lineup.
Columbus has been hit by the injury bug, and some of their biggest stars are out of the lineup. Jeff Carter is out of the lineup with a separated shoulder. R.J. Umberger is out of the lineup with post-concussion symptoms. James Wisniewski has a broken left ankle.
Columbus forward Dane Byers will serve the second game of a three-game suspension he received on an illegal hit to Andrew Desjardins of the San Jose Sharks Saturday night.
When playing against a Central Division foe, Nashville is 7-2-2 this season, including a 4-1-1 record on the road. After Thursday’s game, the Predators return home to host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Blue Jackets visit Music City on Monday night for the final time this season.
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