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2015-16 Top Games Countdown: No. 9

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

March 26: Blue Jackets vs. Preds

The record book was shredded and tossed away when the Nashville Predators took out the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 5-1 final on warm March evening. A dominant first period, James Neal, Roman Josi and Shea Weber all rewrote several long-standing franchise marks in the midst of Seth Jones’ return to Music City.

First, the home team pounded 27 shots on the Columbus net, besting the previous franchise record of 24 and all but overwhelming the Blue Jackets in the process. Neal’s snipe off the right wing gave him 30 tallies on the season and made Nashville one of two teams at the time to possess two 30-goal scorers (Filip Forsberg had 31 goals at that point in the campaign).

“We were ready to start tonight, every line was,” center Ryan Johansen said of playing against his former club for the first time. “Huge credit to the guys on this team tonight, we didn’t give them a sniff at all. Usually there are some momentum swings, but for the most part we handled them really well.”

The night would belong to Weber and Josi, however, as the Preds captain moved into second on the franchise’s goal scoring list with his 164th career goal, and Josi used a trio of helpers to set a new mark for assists in a season by a Preds defensemen with 43.

Check back next weekend for Game No. 8 in our countdown!

Golden Goal:

Topping Calle Jarnkrok’s finish to the Predators tic-tac-toe goal early in the third period, Neal’s crossbar-and-in shot earns the nod for goal of the evening. Speeding up the wing, the forward fires a wrister over the stick of David Savard and into the upper-left portion of the cage.

Obliterating Records:

What started as a slew of shots in the first period spawned into an entire list of franchise records that were either tied or broken in a 5-1 win for the Preds.

The most notable achievements included James Neal’s 30th goal of the season, which gave Nashville two 30-goal scorers in the same season for the first time since 2005-06, when Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya hit the mark. Neal joined Filip Forsberg, who has 31 goals on the season.

“That’s huge; in parts of the season, one of us has been hot at different times, and that’s been good,” Forsberg said of himself and Neal. “We always try to shoot a lot of pucks, and [Neal’s] got an unbelievable shot. He’s been really showing the fans and the team what he can do. It’s been unbelievable to watch him.”

But it was Nashville’s defensive stalwarts who really made their mark on the night. Captain Shea Weber slid into sole possession of second in all-time goals scored in Predators franchise history with 164.

“He plays a big game,” Laviolette said of his Captain. “He provides that heavy presence on the backend. Again, the offense is easy; to look at the goals, and his shot on the goalie he scored tonight was awesome. But he provides so many heavy minutes for us against the top players on every team, and he does it night in and night out. His leadership and his presence on the ice is incredible, it’s the stability of us. The offense speaks for itself.”

Much like his d-partner, Roman Josi also got in on the act, first breaking the record for most assists in a single season by a Preds defenseman with 43, and then tying Weber’s own franchise record for most points by a defenseman in a single season with 56.

“Shea has been a great role model for me,” Josi said. “Having as many points as him is a big honor for me. He’s been one of the best defensemen in the League for years, and I’ve learned so much from him, so it’s definitely a big honor for me.”

Jones Honored in Return:

The initial return of former Pred Seth Jones (traded on Jan. 6 for Ryan Johansen) to Bridgestone Arena was a bit overshadowed on the ice, but the organization honored the No. 4 overall pick in 2013 with a video tribute nonetheless.

Gif of the Game:

Roman Josi matches the Predators record for points in a season by a defenseman with his 56th point (and third assist of the evening).

Quotables:

“It all starts with Peks back there,” said Ryan Johansen. “You can’t win in this League unless you have a great goalie. He’s been great the last two months. I don’t think I’ve ever had such confidence in a goaltender before, whether that’s through Junior and all that stuff. He’s world-class and so is everyone else on this team.”

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