The Predators avoided plunging into their season's third three-game losing skid last night, firing on all cylinders from the minute the puck dropped and knocking off the Blue Jackets, 4-2.
The Preds' 16-shot first period was their best opening period since Jan. 26 against Chicago. For a team that has averaged a mere 9.8 first period shots and can't seem to come alive until 40-plus minutes have elapsed in the game, it was a very refreshing change of pace. When the Preds went up by two goals in the first frame, it was also their first multi-goal lead in over a month- since Jan. 16, coincidentally against Columbus.
Improving the quality of their shots was (and is always) the key to winning the game for the Preds. Nashville racked up 17 high-danger chances while allowing the Blue Jackets to tally just five of their own. The Preds' shot spread for last night looked the best it has in quite a while, showcasing their strong netfront presence.
Before they regained the lead, however, the Preds couldn't help but let the Jackets tie it up in the second period. Boone Jenner managed a shorthanded goal, then Gabriel Carlsson netted his first NHL goal less than two minutes later. The Preds did successfully defend the red-hot Cam Atkinson last night, ending his goal/point streak at five games. Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins left the ice in the third period after sustaining his second injury of the month.
Pekka Rinne passed Evgeni Nabokov for the most all-time wins against the Blue Jackets franchise after finishing the game with a .913 save percentage, saving 21 of 23 Columbus shots.
Calle Jarnkrok lit the lamp twice last night and was nearly able to boast a hat trick until his third period breakaway shot blasted off the post. "Filthy" Filip Forsberg, back to his antics, dusted the likes of Andrew Peeke and Michael Del Zotto, puting the nail in the coffin with a highlight-reel goal.
Matt Duchene recorded a game-high six shots, while Viktor Arvidsson and Mikael Granlund had five apiece. Mark Borowiecki brought the physicality with a heavy seven hits in just 13:35 time on ice.
Columbus' Atkinson, Del Zotto, Peeke, Patrik Laine, and Jack Roslovic all skated off the ice sharing -2 on-ice ratings.
The Preds will be in Detroit on Tuesday to take on the Red Wings, who defeated a stout Panthers squad last night.