The Blue Jackets knew they would have to weather a storm at the start of tonight’s game.
What came at them was something more resembling a hurricane.
Nashville was roaring out of the gates and set a new franchise record for shots in a period with 27 (!) in the opening 20 minutes, and they added on in the second period to take a commanding lead after two.
The Predators, one of the league’s hottest teams of late (12-3-5 in their last 20 entering tonight) continued on their roll with a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena, a game that began with a major storyline surrounding a blockbuster deal that took place in January.
Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones squared off against their old teams for the first time since the Jan. 6 trade that rocked the hockey world, and after a day full of conversation about the deal and what followed it, they were both happy to hit the ice and get the game over with.
The game began well for one team and not-so-well for the other.
It was all Nashville in the first period, but after an opening goal from James Neal at 3:04, the Blue Jackets got it back thanks to Boone Jenner’s team-leading 28th goal of the season at 11:52. And after the poor start, Columbus seemed to steady itself and settle into the game before Nashville re-gained the lead late in the frame.
Mattias Ekholm crept down from his point position and re-directed a pass behind Joonas Korpisalo with 2:27 left in the first period, sending the Predators into the break with a 2-1 lead that easily could have been much larger.
Craig Smith and Shea Weber (power play) scored second period goals for the Predators, who limited the Blue Jackets to three shots in the middle frame and took a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
“They came out hard right away,” Jenner said. “It wasn’t a good first period for us – we need to be a lot better. We need to keep our game simple, skate, and play physical. I don’t think we did that enough tonight.”
John Tortorella summed up tonight's game in a "press conference" that lasted approximately 20 seconds.
“(We were) totally overwhelmed," Tortorella said. "That’s all you need to know. I’m not going to answer or dissect or talk about it…it won’t do anybody any good to go any further. We were overwhelmed from the start of the game to the end.”