Nashville Predators: They’re Slowly Creeping up the Division Standings

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) glove saves a shot against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) glove saves a shot against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the third period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports /

With a good defensive showing and excellent goaltending, the Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday. Having never won more than two games in a row this season, the Predators look to start another winning streak on Sunday.

The Predators face the Blue Jackets for the sixth time this season in the second game of a back-to-back. Sunday’s game will be the Predators’ second of a five-game homestand in Bridgestone.

2 PM CDT. Fox Sports TN. 9-11-0 (18 Pts). Columbus +107, Preds -129. 8-9-5 (21 Pts). 113. Sunday, February 28. 151

The Predators were bolstered on Saturday by Mattias Ekholm, who scored two goals in his first game back from injury.

Ekholm’s performance marked the first time in his career with a multi-goal game and his 200th career point. Both of his goals were a product of throwing shots at the net from outside and screening the Columbus goaltender.

Saturday’s game also saw the return of goaltender Juuse Saros. Saros had not been in action since February 18 but put on an excellent performance in the 2-1 win.

Blue Jackets Continue To Struggle

More from Predlines

Saturday’s loss extends the Blue Jacket losing streak to four games, only winning one game in their last eight. Coincidentally, Columbus’ last win came against the Predators on February 18.

Today’s matchup is an important one for Columbus. They sit in fifth place in the standings but now have the Predators and the Dallas Stars breathing down their necks.

The Blue Jackets are not an offensive team but have received excellent play from Cam Atkinson, the lone goal scorer on Saturday.

Atkinson has scored seven goals in nine games and sits at 17 points on the season.

Joonas Korpisalo had a good showing on Saturday, stopping 31 of 33 shots. The Predators challenged him often but only found the back of the net with long shots from the blue line.

You can bet the Blue Jackets got an earful from Head Coach John Tortorella after yet another loss to Nashville. It is almost a guarantee that Columbus will come out swinging in today’s matchup.

Something To Build On For The Nashville Predators

Nashville played a pretty good all-around game on Saturday and kept the pressure on Columbus for most of the game. They will need to turn up the pressure today, as Columbus will undoubtedly do the same.

The Predators’ offense is still struggling. Several players are still unable to score goals, yet they found a way to win on Saturday thanks to Ekholm and Saros. They have to carry their momentum into today’s game.

If the Predators could start getting a more balanced offensive effort from everyone, they should begin to win on a more consistent basis. Matt Duchene and Viktor Arvidsson, who have both had trouble scoring goals, had good looks at the net on Saturday yet came up empty again.

Expect Head Coach John Hynes to ride the hot hand in Saros, who stopped several high chance shots from the Blue Jackets and only let in one goal in his last outing. Hopefully, Saros can build on Saturday’s win and put his struggles behind him.

Must Read. Nashville Predators: Who Is Truly to Blame For Their Failures?. light

It is encouraging to see that the Predators have won three of their last four games. And while it is good that they have figured out how to beat Columbus, they have to start beating some of the Central Division’s top-four teams in the coming weeks.

It is baffling how the Predators put in strong performances, but can’t replicate the same intensity from game to game. When they play with intensity and simplify their game, they are often rewarded as they have been against the Blue Jackets.

As we inch closer to the halfway point of the season, every win takes on even more meaning. The Predators’ grace period is over. If they are to have any hope of salvaging this season, they must start firing on all cylinders and rack up as many points as possible.

What would be a better way to do that than by extending their winning streak with another win against Columbus today?