The Predators open a road-heavy portion of their schedule Tuesday night when they face the Blue Jackets, who have surged back into playoff contention.
Tied with Calgary for fifth in the West and two points ahead of a handful of teams, Nashville (31-20-8) knows it’s in for a struggle over the final seven weeks as it looks to secure a second straight postseason berth. The Predators would certainly like to have Suter in the lineup to help, but his availability is a question mark.
Suter leads Nashville at plus-19 and is tied for the team lead with 25 assists, but it’s uncertain when he’ll play again after suffering an upper-body injury during a 3-2 loss to Phoenix on Saturday.
The Predators, who open a stretch of six of eight on the road, have allowed a league-low 139 goals.
The Blue Jackets (29-23-6) will also have to overcome the loss of a key player, as Brassard was placed on injured reserve Thursday with a hand problem and will miss two to three weeks. Columbus will look to top scorers Rick Nash(notes) and R.J. Umberger(notes) to help it do so.
Nash had an assist and Umberger set up two goals as the Blue Jackets defeated Chicago 4-3 on Friday, setting a franchise record with their sixth straight road win.
“I just felt we were giving them a little too much respect,” said coach Scott Arniel, whose team has won six of eight and is four points out of the final playoff spot in the West. “We’ve had success in the last three or four weeks because we haven’t gotten intimidated by any team we’re playing.”
The Blue Jackets have gone 5-1-2 in their last eight home games against the Predators, compared to 0-10-5 in the 15 most recent matchups at Bridgestone Arena.
Mason made 27 saves and recorded his 16th shutout in a 2-0 home win over the Predators on Nov. 22. He stopped 26 shots through overtime in a 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Nashville on Dec. 1.
The Blue Jackets have killed off 27 of 29 penalties during their 6-1-1 run. The Predators have gone 0 for 35 on the power play in their last 10 games at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus opens a five-game trip Sunday against Nashville.