COLUMBUS, Ohio - Once the Nashville Predators realized there was more to the game than offence, their early-season slump quickly became a thing of the past.
J.P. Dumont had two goals and an assist, and the Predators sent the Columbus Blue Jackets to their fourth straight loss with a 4-1 win Monday night.
"We don't have as much (scoring) power as we did last year," Dumont said. "We're going to need 20 guys every night."
Nashville used its lock-down defensive approach to beat Columbus for the 10th consecutive time, and second in three days.
Martin Erat tallied twice - including an empty netter - and had two assists to record a career-high four points for Nashville, which has won seven of nine following a six-game losing streak. The Predators have earned a point in six straight games and eight of nine. Jason Arnott added two assists.
"We know we have to play hard for 60 minutes," Erat said. "Nothing is for free in this league. We paid the price for it and now we're just trying to move up in the standings."
David Vyborny scored the lone goal for Columbus. After an 8-3-2 start, the Blue Jackets have hit their first skid of the season - all losses against divisional opponents - and have only one win in six.
"Our execution today was very poor," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We struggled to make 10-foot passes. We had a lot of tired looking players out there. It's not an excuse, it's just a reality of where we're at."
With the Predators leading 2-1 in the third period, Blue Jackets defenceman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen tripped near his blue line without being touched. Arnott fed Erat for a shot, and Dumont jammed home the easy rebound at 11:43.
"We had some good fortune when one of their defenceman fell down," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We were able to get some breathing room."
Chris Mason had 29 saves for Nashville. Pascal Leclaire stopped 27 shots for Columbus.
"Mason was really good," Trotz said. "I thought we made a couple of exceptional saves when the game was close."
Early in the first period, after Nashville worked the puck along the boards behind the Columbus net, Arnott zipped a centring pass from the right corner. Dumont got behind defenceman Adam Foote and tapped in his fifth goal at 6:39.
Columbus tied it just 15 seconds later. Sergei Fedorov pressured the puck loose from defenceman Dan Hamhuis deep in the Predators' zone. Vyborny scooped up the puck along the right boards, cut to the slot and beat Mason with a low shot through traffic. Vyborny, who led the team in scoring last season, netted his first goal in 32 games.
Erat made it 2-1 at 12:33 with a superb effort. Jetting across the ice toward the right wing, he settled a bouncing puck at the blue line, held off Rostislav Klesla with his left arm while shielding the puck, and stick-handled around Leclaire, who lunged with a poke check. He scored his third of the season into the vacated net.
"He just outskated everybody on the ice," Dumont said. "He was by far the best skater on the ice."
Notes: Columbus placed LW Fredrik Modin (back spasms) on the injured list, retroactive to Nov. 2. He has missed 10 of 17 games this season. ... Nashville's David Legwand - who leads the team in scoring - had his career-best, five-game point streak snapped. ... Blue Jackets C Michael Peca was scratched for the second consecutive game due to a sore groin. ... The Predators have won five straight in Columbus.