The Predators look for a fifth win in a row overall Saturday night as they try to defeat the Blue Jackets for the 12th straight time at Sommet Center.
Nashville (11-8-1) hasn’t lost at home to Columbus (12-6-2) since April 3, 2006. The Blue Jackets are 4-19-2 with one tie in Nashville.
One of the keys to that success has been the Predators’ defensive work against Rick Nash(notes). The Columbus star went six straight games without a point in Nashville before scoring four times in last season’s three losses.
The Blue Jackets’ long streak of road futility in the series is not the only hurdle they will have to overcome. Mathieu Garon(notes), in his first season with Columbus, is 0-4 with a 4.08 goals-against average at Nashville and has posted a 4.43 GAA in losing five straight starts overall against the Predators.
After originally labeling Garon as starter for this game, coach Ken Hitchcock opted to give Steve Mason(notes) a second straight start after he made 25 saves Thursday in Columbus’ third straight victory, 4-1 at Dallas. Nash had a power-play goal and Kristian Huselius(notes) scored twice - once short-handed and once on the power play.
“I really liked our competitiveness all game,” coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Garon and Mason continue to vie for the No. 1 job for the Blue Jackets, with Garon going 4-1 with a 2.33 GAA in five starts.
“The only thing I wanted to do was play well when I had the chance and I’ll deserve more starts,” Garon told the Blue Jackets’ official Web site. “That’s the only way I’ll play more. I’ve been feeling good lately.”
Garon will go up against one of the hottest teams in the NHL in Nashville, which is on its longest win streak of the season and has won eight of 10 overall. The Predators improved to 3-0 on their five-game homestand with a 3-2 shootout victory over New Jersey on Thursday.
“Arnott has been getting some really good chances, but nothing has been going in,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Arnott was getting a touch frustrated, but he kept working.”
The veteran center had a goal on the power play as the Predators improved to 9-0-0 when scoring with the man advantage this season. Nashville has four power-play goals on this homestand, two by Steve Sullivan(notes).
“Right now, we are really just playing solid games,” said winger J.P. Dumont(notes), who has a team-high 15 assists. “(We) keep working hard, every line every night is playing some big roles and that’s what we need.”
Since Arnott joined the club for the 2006-07 season, the Predators are 18-2-2 versus the Blue Jackets. They are 17-0-2 when he plays against Columbus and he had eight goals and 10 assists in those games.