The cannon at Nationwide Arena was quiet for two periods but made up for lost ground in the third when the Columbus scored four times and Steve Mason was perfect in net to give the Blue Jackets a 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.
The Jackets got two goals from Captain Rick Nash and one each from Matt Calvert and Antoine Vermette for far more offense than was needed on a night when the Predators had little offensive punch. Kris Russel and Fedor Tyutin each had a pair of assists and Vermette had an assist for two point nights.
Mason stopped all 20 Predator shots en route to his third shut out of the year. Pekka Rinne had little support from his defense as he allowed four goals on 30 Columbus shots.
The first period featured plenty of back and forth action with the Jackets outshooting the Predators, 13-6. Both teams were chippy with Nashville leading the hits 16-13.
The second period was almost the opposite of the first with the Preds outshooting the Jacekts, 11-4. R.J. Umberger had the best chance of the period by either team on a breakaway at 10:00 but was denied by Rinne.
The final period was one of the worst of the year for the Predators. The Jackets broke the scoreless tie at 1:11 into the period. Nash took the puck down the left wing all the way from the red line and cut toward the net from the circle and was like a bull in a china shop as he blew past Kevin Klein for the goal.
After Shane O’Brien got called for roughing, the Preds had a major melt down when Rinne tried to play a puck behind his net but Alexander Sulzer deflected the puck and Calvert grabbed the puck and did a wrap around into an unguarded Nashville net to give the Jackets a 2-0 lead at 4:29.
The wheels came completely off at 9:56 when Vermette was allowed to stand unencumbered in the blue ice where he took a pass from Russel and deflected it into the net to make it 3-0 Jackets. The icing on the cake for Columbus was a beautiful tic-tack-toe power play goal at 19:10 when Nash scored his second goal after perfect passes from Vermette and Jakub Voracek to add injury to insult.
As poor as the Preds’ defense was in the third, the offense matched the effort with the Jackets outshooting Nashville, 13-3.
Jonathan Blum had a fairly good first game in the NHL considering how those around him were playing. He skated 19 shifts for a total of 16:02. He had two hits, two blocked shots, and was a minus-1 on the evening. He had no glaring errors during the game.
Jordin Tootoo appeared to be more like himself as he squared off with Jared Boll in the closing minutes of the game in a fight where he gave up five inches of height and even more in reach. That should set the stage for some bad blood in the rematch on Sunday in Nashville.
The Predators returned home immediately after the game where they will have to regroup before facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night at the Bridgestone Arena.