Blue Jackets interim head coach may have said it best in describing tonight’s game: “We made one mistake. We broke before they did.”
It turned into a game of patience on both sides and the Nashville Predators pounced on a neutral-zone turnover midway through the second period to earn the game’s first goal. Sergei Kostitsyn initiated the play, which became a 2-on-1 for the Predators in the offensive zone. Kostitsyn found Martin Erat with a cross-crease pass to make it 1-0 Nashville at 11:08 of the middle period.
That lead became a two-goal bulge just over two minutes later with the Predators operating on their second power play chance of the night – and it was Erat right in the middle of another goal for Nashville. Roman Josi found Erat in the right circle, and Erat slid a perfect pass to Mike Fisher to tap in the power-play marker at 13:11.
But the story of this game was Pekka Rinne.
Nashville’s star netminder made 38 saves and was stellar in keeping the Blue Jackets at bay, making several high-end stops in the first period when Columbus came with a flurry. He robbed a tap-in try from Ryan Russell and sprawled to keep a rebound attempt by Rick Nash out of the goal in the opening 20 minutes, setting the stage for what would be a tremendous game on his part.
Shea Weber’s 190-foot empty netter sealed the 3-0 final with 31.4 seconds to play.
In a game like this, you can look to the opposing goaltender to find a game-changing moment. Rinne provided one in the third period that left Derick Brassard looking to the rafters for an answer.
Playing with Ryan Johansen and Tomas Kubalik, the trio put together a strong shift and nearly got Columbus on the board. Kubalik got a shot off to produce a rebound, Brassard picked up the loose puck and appeared to have an open net – but Rinne lay flat on his face and made the save to keep it a 2-0 game.
For the first time this season and for the first time since Apr. 5 at Dallas, the Blue Jackets were shutout tonight. The 47-game streak was the longest active streak in the NHL entering tonight’s game.
Antoine Vermette had his season-long (tied) four-game point streak come to an end tonight. He had registered 1-3-4 during the streak, which began Jan. 10 at Chicago. He won 16-of-20 face-offs (80.0 percent) tonight and entered the game ranked eighth in the NHL in face-off win percentage. He has played in 227-straight games, the longest active streak on the team. The streak is the third longest in franchise history.
Steve Mason started his first game since Jan. 8 at Anaheim and stopped 22-of-24 shots on the night. It was the 198th game of his NHL career. He has posted a 2.13 goals-against average his last seven home starts after posting a 3.12 goals-against his first eight home starts.
vs. Detroit Red Wings
Joe Louis Arena | Detroit, Michigan
Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 The Fan & BlueJackets.com