Columbus at Nashville
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, April 7, 2018
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in franchise history, but they still don't know who their first-round opponent will be entering Saturday's regular-season finale against the Nashville Predators. One thing is certain for Columbus - a victory over the NHL-best Predators will set up a first-round series versus Pittsburgh.
The Blue Jackets, who also could drop into the first or second wild-card spot depending on the outcomes of Saturday's games, earned their postseason berth by going 13-1-2 over their last 16 contests. "What it means to me, and hopefully everybody in our organization, is just an opportunity to play for a Stanley Cup," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told reporters. "If you're out, you have no opportunity." Nashville, which advanced to the Stanley Cup Final last season, wrapped up the Central Division and its first Presidents' Trophy by knocking off Washington 4-3 on Thursday - establishing itself as the team to beat. "It's definitely something we're proud of, but obviously, the main goal remains to win the Stanley Cup," Predators defenseman Roman Josi told reporters.TV:
8 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Columbus), FS Tennessee (Nashville)ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS (45-29-7):
Josh Anderson (knee) returned to the lineup in Thursday's 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh after a 17-game absence, while captain Nick Foligno (lower body) and defenseman Markus Nutivaara (upper body) accompanied the team to Nashville. Leading scorer Artemi Panarin kept up his blistering pace with a pair of assists against the Penguins to give him 29 points over his last 16 games and 82 for the season. Cam Atkinson is riding a nine-game point streak and has scored 11 goals in his last 11 contests. ABOUT THE PREDATORS (52-18-11):
Craig Smith scored two goals in Thursday's victory to set a career high of 25 for Nashville, which will face either Colorado or St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs. Josi scored to help the Predators set a franchise record for goals by defensemen in a season with 56 and added an assist to boost his point total to 21 over the last 20 contests. Fellow blue-liner Ryan Ellis, who didn't make his season debut until Jan. 2, has collected two goals and eight points over his last seven games.OVERTIME
1. Former Blue Jackets C Ryan Johansen has notched seven points in his last eight games for the Predators.
2. Columbus is 7-for-14 on the power play over its last four conests.
3. Nashville has won four straight in the all-time series, including a 3-1 victory at Columbus on Nov. 7.PREDICTION:
Blue Jackets 4, Predators 3
Stats and Records