The Blue Jackets are in search of a fourth straight victory as they start a four-game trip Saturday night looking to improve to 3-0-0 against the Predators this season.
Columbus (13-12-6) won 5-1 over Calgary behind Nick Foligno’s two goals Friday to cap a 3-0-2 homestand. The Blue Jackets are 8-0-4 during a franchise-record 12-game point streak.
The club plays 12 of its final 17 games on the road in its bid for the franchise’s second postseason berth.
“Now I think we have 12 games on the road to finish up the season, that’s going to be important,” Foligno said. “But I think we’re the type of team that’s built to play on the road, we’re a gritty, physical team.”
Nashville (12-13-6), meanwhile, has 11 of its final 17 at home. The Predators returned from a 1-5-0 trip and won 5-3 over the Flames on Thursday to begin this homestand.
“We talked about that, let that part go, let the road trip go and see if we can build something here at home,” coach Barry Trotz said.
These teams met four nights ago when Columbus had four different skaters score with Vinny Prospal finishing with three assists in a 4-3 victory.
That contest marks the last time center Craig Smith saw action for the Predators, with Trotz benching him Thursday before he was sent to Milwaukee of the AHL on Friday.
“Craig is a good, young player but you can’t be a good, young player playing that poorly,” Trotz said. “He didn’t have a good road trip, and I just felt it was really an accountability thing.”
“The most important thing is we got the two points,” Erat said. “We had a couple of bad mistakes the last three, four games, and it happens. It is a long season and we bounced back today.”
Josi has seven points over a career-high four-game streak.
Pekka Rinne is suddenly struggling for Nashville, going 1-2-0 with a 4.60 goals-against average in his last five starts - getting pulled early twice. It’s surprising for a goalie with a league-high five shutouts.
Sergei Bobrovsky meanwhile, improved to 7-0-2 in his last nine starts with 24 saves Friday for the Blue Jackets.
Bobrovsky has been part of a penalty-kill unit that has killed off 36 of opponents’ last 37 chances, with the lone tally a 5-on-3 goal by Detroit’s Johan Franzen on March 10. Nashville is at 26.2 percent on the power play at home for one of the league’s best marks.
Columbus won 3-2 in a shootout at Nashville in the opener Jan. 19, improving to 2-14-5 in its last 21 visits to the Bridgestone Arena.
“We are a pretty confident group but I guarantee Nashville will be ready,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said.
Center Brandon Dubinsky sat out Friday with an undisclosed injury for the Blue Jackets.