Perhaps most disappointing about tonight's loss to the Nashville Predators was that it came on the heels of one of the Blue Jackets' best performances of the season.
This did not even come close to resembling the team that smoked the Toronto Maple Leafs in their own barn 48 hours prior. In fact, it was arguable their wildest 180 of the first 25 games. While the first game back from a long road trip is often said to be difficult, the Blue Jackets lacked energy right from the get-go.
Nashville jumped on them early, and pumped eight of the game's first 10 shots on goal by the midway point of the first period. And once again, the Blue Jackets' defensive zone coverage - the one thing Todd Richards singled out as their most inconsistent facet - failed them as a breakdown allowed the Predators to open the scoring at 9:58 of the first period. Ryan Ellis, with all day at the blue line, make a perfect slap-pass over to Matt Cullen, who was all alone in the right circle.
A two-goal second period was more than enough for the Predators, who were squeaky clean in front of rookie goaltender Marek Mazanec. The Blue Jackets' first sustained attack came in the third period, but by that point, it was 4-0 Nashville and a bit too deep into the proceedings.
Mike Fisher, David Legwand and Nick Spaling followed up Cullen's opening goal with tallies of their own, sending the Blue Jackets to their second straight loss on home ice. If there's a silver lining in this one, it's that Columbus has a chance to redeem itself Friday night against the Edmonton Oilers - a game they should have no problem being ready for given what happened 10 days ago.
The Blue Jackets were fortunate to be down 1-0 after 20 minutes, but Legwand's power play goal really put them behind the eight-ball. It came just 54 seconds into the second period and after the Blue Jackets did some solid work on the penalty kill earlier in the shift.
1. MATT CULLEN (NSH)
The Predators signed the veteran center for secondary offense, but he was more than that tonight for the Predators. He scored what would stand as the game-winner in the first period, and set up Spaling's tally in the third period as well.
2. DAVID LEGWAND (NSH)
Legwand scored a big goal for Nashville and could have scored a couple more, but the veteran center was solid all night long.
3. MAREK MAZANEC (NSH)
Many experts questioned whether the Predators could hang around in the absence of Pekka Rinne, but Mazanec - in his first NHL season - has really stepped up for Barry Trotz's club. He didn't have to be great tonight but he made sure the Blue Jackets didn't get any sort of spark.
vs. EDMONTON OILERS
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.