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Nashville dropped by Columbus 3-1, margin for error now slimmer than ever


Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

It’s been nearly seven years to the day since Columbus last left Nashville with a regulation win.

That wait is over for the Blue Jackets and it comes on their last trip to the Music City as a member of the Central Division.

Newly-acquired Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 38 shots as the Columbus Blue Jackets squeezed past the Nashville Predators 3-1 in front of a sell-out crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

The Predators started out the first period as hot as any team could, putting seven shots on Bobrovsky over the course of the first three minutes, ending the period with 13 total. However, the story of the season for Nashville so far has been luck and consistency, something the Predators just couldn’t find tonight against the Jackets.

“You have to give [Bobrovsky] credit. We had opportunities and he made the second saves off of rebounds. It’s just one of those things were maybe if we get one, we turn the tides and really come on strong,” said Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.

Bobrovsky stood on his head throughout the entire night, allowing only a Klein-batted shot past him in the second period. The loss for Nashville comes at a very delicate time for the team, who are in the midst of the Western Conference playoff hunt and having just seen one of their longtime forwards traded away after being with the franchise for over a decade.

With the loss, Columbus jumps over the Predators into a tie with Edmonton for the eighth spot in the conference. Nashville, now having played the most games in the West, drops to 11th [as of the posting of this story] with 10 games remaining on the year.

“Yeah, we don’t have any room for error, really. Coming down the stretch, we have to get two points every night and take care of it on our own end. We can’t look for anyone else for help, we have to do it ourselves,” said Klein.

“It’s been [a slim margin] all year it seems. We just have to win, plain and simple. There is not much error for any team right now,” said head coach Barry Trotz.

As teams in front and behind the Predators are finding their own means of separation, the loss for Nashville makes the margin for error almost zero to none. Finding themselves in a situation they haven’t experienced since 2009, the Predators are on the brink of missing the playoffs for only the second time in nine seasons.

Eight of Nashville’s final 10 games come against teams in a playoff position, seven of those against Central Division foes. This includes three more with Chicago, two against Detroit, and one against St. Louis/Columbus/Dallas/Vancouver/Calgary each. The loss tonight against the Blue Jackets not only backs Nashville into the proverbial corner, but puts them at a daunting task of having to nearly win out to reach the post-season.

“The whole season, the margin for error has been tiny. Same thing again tonight. It’s…just costly,” said Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne.

Nashville starts a home-and-home back-to-back against Chicago on a rare 2pm start time this upcoming Saturday, which will arguably be their two toughest games of the season. If the Predators can find a way to survive and pull points from both games, maybe even wins from both, it will go a long way towards finding the light at the end of the tunnel.

If they lose both? A somber flight to Nashville on a late Sunday evening may be the final nail in the coffin of a strange and condensed 4 months of hockey.