Weber, Hornqvist, Lead Preds over Jackets

The Nashville Predators won their second game in a row with a convincing 4-1 victory over Columbus on Sunday. Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists, while Patric Hornqvist provided two points.

The win was Nashville’s 15th straight at home over Columbus.

The Jackets wasted no time to get on the board as R.J. Umberger tipped a Marc Methot wrister in the crease to put the Jackets up 1-0 just 37 seconds into the contest. It was all part of a sloppy start by the Preds that included numerous turnovers in their own zone.

Down by one in the first, Pekka Rinne made a great stick save along the goal line to keep Columbus from going up by two. Both teams traded chances on the man advantage, but neither converted.

Nashville came out with a vengeance in the middle stanza with one of the better periods they’ve played this year. Weber led the way as the Preds scored thrice in the second period. The captain led off the scoring with his patented cannon from the point at the 2:59 mark; Jackets goalie Steve Mason was screened on the play.

The Preds ended the second period with a pair of rebound goals.  At 13:51 Nick Spaling scored his second of the year when he jammed home a Weber shot from the top of the circle. Nearly three minutes after Spaling’s goal, Hornqvist gave the Preds a 3-1 lead with a power play goal when he put home a rebound (originally shot by Weber) as he was falling down to the ice.

Nashville outshot the Jackets 11-5 in the middle stanza and dominated the play for most of the 20 minutes.

Sergei Kostitsyn capped off the scoring for the Preds when he pushed the lead to 4-1 at 5:53 of the third period when he banged home a rebound after Colin Wilson’s shot hit the post

With 12:02 remaining, Cal O’Reilly left the game with a right leg injury. He suffered it in a collision with Jackets forward Derek Dorsett. O’Reilly didn’t put any weight on his leg when coming off the ice. It was later determined that he suffered a broken fibula.

Rinne only made 19 saves, but made some key saves to allow the Preds to jump out in front in the second.

Post-Game Quotes:

Barry Trotz on the game…

“I think for the most part, after the first period we got our act together. I give Columbus a lot of credit – they came out with a determined purpose and sort of got us on our heels. I thought we re-grouped really well and after that, were really strong all game.”

Trotz on the second period…

“I thought we had first efforts in the first period and not a lot of second efforts – I wasn’t really happy about it. The second period we just played Predator Hockey, stayed on the puck, created some stuff, went to the net, had a little bit of a blueline mentality.”

Hornqvist on Weber…

“He probably has the hardest shot in the league. When he shoot it from up there, we make sure two guys are around the net. If you spend a lot of time in front of the net, you’re going to score a bunch of goals.”

Weber on the team…

“We’re a real streaky team right now and we need to change that, too. We got to try to be more consistent, play the same way as we did in the second and third period and we’ll be alright.”

Rinne on last couple of wins…

“Any time you start a streak and win a few games in a row it kind of builds your confidence. Not only personally, but as a team, that’s the biggest thing.”

Spaling on his goal…

“It was just a good point shot. We talked about after the first we had to get pucks to the net. We had a good screen by Smitty and did a good job of getting it through there.”

Shane O’Brien on first intermission…

“Obviously Trotzy wasn’t happy with the way we came out in the first period with it being a division game, and he let us know about it. We’re all professional and grown men, and maybe it woke us up a bit.”

Final Thoughts:

This was a really important win for the Preds. They had dropped five in a row around Christmas, but have turned things around before heading out west this week for three games.

In the last two contests, Trotz’s group has won a pair of 4-1 games to get back on track. They have just two more games for the rest of January.

The loss of O’Reilly is another blow for the team as the injury bug continues to bite, but they seemingly always find a way to battle through injuries. O’Reilly will join Steve Sullivan, Martin Erat and Matthew Lombardi on the shelf.

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