As part of the Central Division, Nashville and Columbus have grown quite familiar with each other.
More specifically, the Predators have become quite accustomed to beating the Blue Jackets.
The Predators look to extend the longest active winning streak by one club over another to 13 when they meet on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.
Nashville (21-19-2) swept the eight-game season series from Columbus last season, and has won the first four meetings of 2007-08. The Predators have outscored the Blue Jackets 43-20 during the winning streak, and are 17-2-1 against them since 2005-06.
“We don’t like them and they surely don’t like us,” Predators goaltender Chris Mason said after their 4-3 home win over Columbus on Dec. 27.
Mason, who made 36 saves, has started each game against them this season, posting a 1.96 goals-against average. He is 8-1-0 with a 1.86 GAA lifetime against Columbus.
Mason made 28 saves in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over Los Angeles for his second shutout of the season. It was his first start in five games since losing 5-2 to San Jose on Dec. 29.
Tuesday’s win over the league’s worst team was the Predators’ most lopsided victory of the season, and started when Darcy Hordichuk, Jason Arnott and David Legwand scored 75 seconds apart in the first period to set a franchise record for the fastest three goals.
J.P. Dumont’s power-play goal in the third period extended his goal-scoring streak to six games, also breaking a franchise-best previously shared by Steve Sullivan, Greg Johnson and Sergei Krivokrasov.
“I’ve just tried to keep things simple. I’m shooting the puck and staying around the net,” said Dumont, who has a team-high 16 goals. “Right now, I’m having fun out there shooting the puck and our line is playing well.”
Dumont also has six goals and four assists during the 12-game winning streak over Columbus.
The Blue Jackets (20-18-6) are coming off a 6-4 home victory over St. Louis on Friday after losing to the Blues 6-1 on Tuesday.
“It was a huge win. Everybody knows what happened out there (on Tuesday night),” said Pascal Leclaire, who had 26 saves on Friday. “It was embarrassing. We were pretty sour about it. We definitely came out the way we wanted to play. We were in their face all night.”
In his only start against the Predators this season, Leclaire stopped 29 shots in a 4-1 loss on Nov. 12. He is just 1-5-0 with a 4.37 GAA all-time against Nashville.
Backup Fredrik Norrena is 1-4-0 with a 3.73 GAA since Dec. 23, which includes two losses to Nashville. Norrena has never beaten the Predators in his career, going just 0-6-1 with a 2.97 GAA against them lifetime.
Nikolai Zherdev scored twice in the last six minutes against the Blues, and already has 17 goals after scoring 10 in 71 games last season.
Rick Nash, who was named to the Western Conference All-Star team Thursday, scored his team-leading 23rd goal on Friday. Nash, though, has been held without a point in his last seven games against Nashville.
The Blue Jackets will be looking for their first five-game winning streak in Columbus since Jan. 20-Feb. 8, 2006. They’ve had no luck at home against the Predators lately, though, losing their last six there against them.