Nashville Defeats Columbus 2-1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nashville Predators, dealing with the loss of four of their top offensive players, needed Paul Kariya and David Legwand against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Both responded with a goal and an assist as the Predators prevailed 2-1 on Saturday night.
Peter Forsberg has missed the past four games with an "upper-body" injury. Steve Sullivan has missed eight games with back spasms. Scott Hartnell is out with a broken foot and Scott Nichol is out with a broken thumb.
"When we needed someone to jump-start us Paul Kariya and David Legwand stepped in scored two goals," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It's important that we are able to win without those players. You find out a lot about players who are able to dig down and play well. I thought as I went down the lineup that everyone contributed in some way or some form."
Columbus took a 1-0 lead when Gilbert Brule took a shot that bounced off the pads of Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Brule came in from the left side of the crease, diving head-first as he popped the rebound between the post and the outstretched skate of Vokoun at 1:17 of the first period.
The Predators' tying goal was also the result of hard work around the net. Legwand took a shot that bounced off Columbus goaltender Fredrik Norrena. Kariya tapped in the rebound as he skated in close from the right side of the net at 4:25.
Legwand gave the Predators a 2-1 first-period lead, again working close to the net. Dan Hamhuis took a shot from midway in the slot. The rebound off Norrena's pads bounced around in front of the net. Legwand skated across the crease, picked up the rebound and wrapped a shot around Norrena at 13:45.
"They scored a goal on their second shift of the game, so I thought we responded really well and played outstanding in the first period," Trotz said.
The Predators couldn't beat Norrena again after the first period.
"We came out a little bit flat in the second," Trotz said. "Then we started to get it going and drew some penalties just by starting to skate and work."
Despite the win, Trotz had one message for his team.
"We had them on the ropes and we couldn't put them away," Trotz said. "We had a chance to bury them a little bit and we didn't. We couldn't get rid of them."
The Predators closed out the series with Columbus with an 8-0 record.
"It is always difficult to win eight games in a row against a team, no matter who you are playing," Vokoun said. "I think it's a good achievement, especially since there is so much talk about the rivalry between us and Columbus. They always play hard against us. We have had some close games."
Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock was frustrated by his team's lack of scoring punch after the early goal.
"We weren't able to score and we had our people on the ice," Hitchcock said. "When a team beats you eight times in a row, it's pretty telling. It doesn't matter what song you sing, it doesn't leave much doubt when they beat you eight times in a row."
The Predators have outscored Columbus 11-2 in the first period in eight games this season and have scored more first-period goals than any team in the NHL with 86. The Blue Jackets are 3-2-1 in their past six on the second night of back-to-back games. The Predators have not lost a game in regulation since Feb. 17, a string of 10 games (7-0-3). ...Kariya has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past five games.