NHL Hockey
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3
Final 1 2 3 OT Tot
Nashville 0 0 3 0 3
Columbus 1 0 2 1 4
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4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, January 10, 2019
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio  Attendance: 17,065

Predators visit Columbus riding hot streak

Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets

  1. The teams have met five times since the January 2016 Ryan Johansen-Seth Jones trade. The Predators have won all five games, with neither Johansen nor Jones scoring a goal (Jones has four assists against his old team; Jones has two against his original club).
  2. After dropping six straight games from December 17 through December 29, Nashville has points in six straight games (5-0-1) and in five straight road contests (4-0-1). This is the team's third separate points streak of five or more games in 2018-19.
  3. The Blue Jackets, who are coming off a 4-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday, have not lost back-to-back games since December 8 and 11. They have won four straight games following a defeat. The Blue Jackets have an .868 save percentage since Christmas, second lowest in the league (Colorado -- .861).
  4. Mattias Ekholm ranks third among NHL defensemen -- and tops among all Nashville players -- with seven points in January. Ekholm has already matched his career high with 27 assists this season, and his 32 points are three short of matching his career best.
  5. Joonas Korpisalo, who will start in net for the Blue Jackets, has an .889 save percentage this season, ranking 58th among the 62 goaltenders who have seen action in at last 10 games. Korpisalo has a solid 6-2-2 records, as Columbus has averaged 3.71 goals per 60 minutes when he has played.
  6. Since the Blue Jackets traded Ryan Johansen to the Predators in exchange for Seth Jones, Johansen is the Preds' leader in assists (142) and points (187), while Jones ranks second among Blue Jackets in both categories (107 assists, 144 points).

Columbus left Florida after a tough loss against a first-place club on Tuesday, and another division leader is next on the schedule when the Blue Jackets return home to Ohio.

The Blue Jackets open a home-heavy stretch when they host the first-place Nashville Predators on Thursday, but they'll do so without starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, benched by the team Thursday morning over an "internal matter."

Joonas Korpisalo, who replaced Bobrovsky midway through the third period Tuesday night, is expected to get the start in goal for Columbus.

"There are certain expectations and values that we have established for our players that define our culture," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. "An incident occurred in which Sergei failed to meet those expectations and values, so we made the decision that he would not be with the team for tonight's game."

Columbus plays five of its next seven at home, including contests against two Metropolitan Division foes, the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

Columbus dropped a 4-0 decision in Tampa Bay to the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning on Tuesday. Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots as the Lightning bettered the NHL's top record to 33-8-2.

The Blue Jackets may have ended their three-game road trip (1-2-0) on a downer, but they have been playing some of their best hockey since Dec. 13, producing an 8-3-1 mark. Columbus will need that level of play against the Predators.

Nashville leads the Central Division with 57 points despite enduring a six-game losing streak (0-5-1) in December.

Even though Columbus had a productive December (8-5-1), the Blue Jackets' power play has been anemic. Since December, only Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson have struck for single goals on the man advantage -- a feckless 2-for-43 stretch.

Columbus coach John Tortorella said his group simply couldn't solve Vasilevskiy despite putting 17 shots on him in the middle period.

"You know, 15, 16, 17 minutes, I think they outplayed us," Tortorella said after the shutout defeat. "I think we put the other minutes in. They needed 15, 16, 17 minutes to score four goals. ... I thought we had some really good minutes.

"When we were on top of them in the second period, I thought their goalie was outstanding. The second period was key for us. I thought we were outstanding, but we came away empty."

Nashville has enjoyed a fantastic week so far, whitewashing one of the Eastern Conference's top clubs and beating a Central Division rival.

The Predators parlayed an 18-save performance by Pekka Rinne and four goals over the final two periods into a 4-0 win over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Monday.

Then Nashville received two goals from Filip Forsberg, including the overtime game-winner, and tallies from Viktor Arvidsson and Colton Sissons -- all recent returnees to the lineup -- in a 4-3 victory against the Blackhawks in Chicago on Wednesday.

The Predators are 3-0-1 during their six-game road trip, and the Toronto shutout was their fifth this season. Forsberg, who leads the club with 16 goals, returned to face the Maple Leafs after a 17-game absence caused by an upper-body injury.

Forsberg joined Sissons, Arvidsson and P.K. Subban as players who are back in Nashville's lineup, but Kyle Turris, Yannick Weber, Miikka Salomaki and Zac Rinaldo remain sidelined with ailments.

The recent spate of good defense -- the Predators have outscored the opposition 12-4 in the past three games -- has drawn the praise of Nashville coach Peter Laviolette.

"I think it's just attention to detail and commitment from the players. They've committed to defending hard and tight," said Laviolette, whose defense allowed a season-low 18 shots against the Maple Leafs.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 10, 2019

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