The Nashville Predators will try to get back in the win column without the help of one of their top defensemen when they visit the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets for tonight's Central Division clash at Nationwide Arena.
The Predators lost a 3-0 road decision Tuesday in New York, ending the club's season high-tying winning streak at five games. Nashville played Tuesday's game without defenseman Ryan Suter and the All-Star has already declared himself out for tonight.
Suter left Monday's 3-1 win over the Islanders with an unspecified upper-body injury and hasn't played since. The 26-year-old has totaled five goals and 25 points in 45 games this season and is leading Nashville with an average of 26 minutes, 30 seconds of ice time per game.
This evening's test also marks the end of a three-game road trip for the Predators, who are 12-9-1 as the guest this season.
Nashville fired 27 shots at New York goaltender Henrik Lundqvist on Tuesday and the steady Swede turned aside every one to post his fourth shutout of the season.
"I thought we had a decent effort against a top team in the East. I don't think we played poorly by any means," Predators center Mike Fisher said. "We competed and just didn't bury our chances."
Anders Lindback was the tough-luck loser as he allowed just two goals on 28 shots for the Predators, who are the sixth seed in the West and one point ahead of Los Angeles.
The Blue Jackets are last in the NHL with just 31 points, but the club has notched wins in two of its last three trips to the ice. Columbus is 2-2 since Todd Richards took over as head coach for the fired Scott Arniel.
Columbus rallied from two goals down to beat the visiting Edmonton Oilers by a 4-2 score on Tuesday. The Oilers held a 2-0 lead just under nine minutes into the game, but the Blue Jackets scored four unanswered goals over the final two periods.
Derek MacKenzie scored the game-winning goal early in the third period and Ryan Johansen, Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett also scored in the comeback win. Curtis Sanford made 21 saves to post the victory for the Blue Jackets.
"It wasn't the start we were looking for," said Richards. "We kind of waded into the game and spotted them two goals. But we kept pushing and found a way to win."
Tonight, the Blue Jackets will try to post consecutive victories for the first time since Nov. 19 and 21, when they beat Nashville and Calgary, respectively.
This evening's test marks the end of a four-game homestand for Columbus, which is 8-12-3 as the host this season.
Nashville is 3-1 against the Jackets this season and has won seven of the last nine encounters in this divisional rivalry. The Predators have also skated away with wins in three of their last four trips to Columbus.