Preview #81: Predators Close Out Their Home Schedule Friday Night

Season Records

Columbus Blue Jackets 34-33-13

Nashville Predators 43-26-11

Will Steve Sullivan return to the lineup before the playoffs?

All eyes in Smashville were looking towards Texas on Thursday night as Nashville Predators fans were wondering if their team would clinch a post-season berth.  A loss for Dallas would have made it impossible for them to catch Nashville and the Predators would’ve been guaranteed their sixth playoff spot in seven years.

But Dallas won  4-2.

Head Coach Barry Trotz said his team never expected any help. “You can’t trust anybody. You have to do it yourself. If you get some help great, but you have to do it yourself,” he said.

Now, all eyes turn back to Nashville for their final home game of the regular season. Friday night, the Predators host the Columbus Blue Jackets in their attempt to once again clinch a playoff spot.

Both Nashville and Columbus played their last games on Tuesday night. The Blue Jackets lost 3-0 to the Stars on Tuesday. The Predators beat the Thrasher by a 6-3 score on the strength of two goals from both Sergei Kostitsyn and Jordin Tootoo. The game was Tootoo’s first three-point game. Kostitsyn extended his points streak to a career-high 10 games.

Columbus has struggled for most of the season, and are ending the season having lost two key players. While the team will have goalie Steve Mason back on Friday night, Captain Rick Nash is done for the season with a back injury, as is defenseman Kris Russell who broke an ankle Tuesday night.

Chris Clark and Anton Stralman are probable for Friday’s game.  Clark is listed as having a lower-body injury and Stralman was out of the lineup with an illness. The Blue Jackets will also have Jan Hejda back in the lineup after serving a two-game suspension. Hejda was suspended for an elbow to the head of Chicago forward Marcus Kruger.

As for Nashville’s injuries, Martin Erat is questionable after being hit pretty hard in the second period of the Atlanta game Tuesday night and will be a game-time decision.

Steve Sullivan and Cal O’Reilly are close to returning. Trotz said the Predators position after the Dallas-Colorado game on Thursday night would play a part in lineup decisions for Nashville’s last home game of the season. “Maybe, yeah. If I said no, I would be lying to you. We have to get points. There is no messing around. You have to get into the playoffs,” Trotz said.

With Dallas winning in regulation, it will be interesting to see what, if any, changes will be made to the Predators lineup.

The home finale is also a special College Night. Tickets are just $10 with a student I.D. There is going to be a party on the Bridgestone Arena Plaza before the game. All fans in attendance will also get a team photo. Game time is 7 pm. Some tickets are still available.

Photo credit: Getty Images

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