While the Columbus Blue Jackets continue to surge behind red-hot goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, the Nashville Predators are struggling to end their slide.
Riding a team-record 10-game point streak, the Blue Jackets look to build on the latest strong performance from Bobrovsky and hand the visiting Predators a season-high fourth consecutive loss Tuesday night.
Bobrovsky made 39 saves in a 1-0 shootout victory over Phoenix on Saturday. The Blue Jackets (11-12-6) went to a shootout for the fourth straight time as they continued a push for the playoffs, as they're 6-0-4 in the last 10.
"Brick by brick we are gaining one at a time," center Mark Letestu told the Blue Jackets' official website after scoring one of his team's two shootout goals Saturday. "As long as we are gaining ground and not losing ground I think we will be happy with it."
Bobrovsky has posted an 0.73 goals-against average during his own 6-0-2 stretch, recording the first two shutouts of his career in that span.
"We've got the hot goalie and we are going to ride him as long as we can," Letestu said.
Though the Blue Jackets have managed two regulation goals and been outshot 117-80 in the last three contests, they earned four points thanks to Bobrovsky and the mostly solid defensive play in front of him. Columbus allowed 28 shots in the first two periods Saturday, but held the Coyotes to 11 in the third and overtime.
"Bottom line is we got two points and we won the game," said coach Todd Richards, whose team has killed off 31 of its last 32 short-handed situations. "That's what we are trying to do every single night and we were fortunate enough to get one (Saturday)."
Thirteen of Columbus' last 14 games have been decided by one goal. It's 8-6-6 overall in such contests and opened the season with a 3-2 shootout victory at Nashville on Jan. 19.
Bobrovsky made 32 saves in that game to help the Blue Jackets snap a four-game skid to the Predators (11-12-6), who have won three straight at Columbus but enter this contest having dropped 11 of 15 overall.
While the Blue Jackets are climbing in the Western Conference standings, the Predators are trying to avoid falling further out of playoff contention.
Nashville opened a five-game trip with a 4-0 win over Dallas last Tuesday, but it's been outscored 16-9 in three straight losses since. Pekka Rinne made 18 saves but allowed two third-period goals in a 3-2 loss to Edmonton on Sunday.
"We're not finding the way to win games right now,' said star defenseman Shea Weber, who had a goal for his eighth point in seven games. "We're giving games away. We are making mistakes. It's hard to comprehend right now. We need to get things back on track.'
Perhaps no Predator needs to more than Rinne, who has allowed nine goals on 35 shots in three games - two of which he was pulled from - after stopping 84 of 85 to win two of his previous three.
Rinne has posted a 1.66 GAA and a shutout during the three-game winning streak at Columbus.
The Associated Press News Service
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