Predators establish home-ice advantage with 12-4 record since start of December
The Nashville Predators won their fifth consecutive game on home ice Monday night when they beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at Bridgestone Arena. It was their third win in a row and seventh win in the last eight games.
All-Star defenseman, Ryan Suter returned to the lineup. Suter says the team has finally established the home ice advantage Nashville is known for maintaining.
“I think early on we struggled at home because we were on the road so much. You are on the road for a week and then you come home for a game and then you go back on the road for a couple of games. It is tough to get anything going when you are on the road and back home,” Suter said.
In the month of October, Nashville was 2-2-1 at home. In November, the Predators slightly improved with a 2-1-2 record at home for a combined 4-3-3 at home through the first two months of the season. It wasn’t until December that Nashville started to establish its dominance at home, posting a 12-4 record at Bridgestone Arena since Nashville’s 3-2 loss to Buffalo on December 3rd.
“Now that we have had our little stretch at home we have been able to capitalize on that and gain our home ice advantage,” Suter explained.
Nashville has one of the best records at home in the NHL since the start of the 2005-06 season, tied with San Jose for 171 wins in that span, behind only Detroit who has 177 home wins since 2005. Furthermore, the Predators are the only team in the League with at least 23 home win in each of the last six seasons.
Monday night’s game was the first for Suter since being knocked out of the lineup with an upper-body injury during Nashville’s 3-1 win against the New York Islanders on January 16th.
“It felt good to be back playing. It was good to see everyone playing hard too. I worked pretty hard the last couple of practices to get in shape and the way the team is playing it makes it a lot easier too,” Suter said about his return to the lineup.
Nashville opened the scoring at 8:07 into the first period when Martin Erat created a turnover in front of Columbus goaltender Steve Mason. Erat stole the puck, tapping it over to Mike Fisher who beat Mason for the 1-0 lead.
Columbus tied the game in the second period when Rick Nash was able to step aside Predators captain Shea Weber and went in on a breakaway beating netminder Pekka Rinne just six minutes into the second period.
In the last minute of the second period, Nashville took a 2-1 lead when Fisher scored his second goal of the game and 11th of the season, a power play marker at 19:31 of the middle frame.
Halischuk and Hornqvist added goals for Nashville in the third period. Hornqvist’s goal, his 14th of the season, was scored on the man advantage.
Suter assisted on both power play goals.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said Suter was able to step right back into action Monday night. “He just stepped in. He managed the game today. He was being fairly efficient. He makes it look so easy.”
The Predators have one more game before the All-Star break, tomorrow night in Chicago. While Nashville’s play at home has been impressive as of late, winning 12 of the last 14 contests at Bridgestone Arena, Suter says that to be successful, the team needs to win on the road, too. “It is good to get these games at home but you have to win on the road too if you want to be successful. For us, going on the road we have to go out and establish our game,” he said.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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