The Preds came away with a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena to earn points No. 90 and 91 on the season. Since Feb. 12, the Predators have more points in the standings than any other NHL club. The team has a 14-2-5 record, good for 33 points in the standings.
“We were ready to start tonight, every line was,” center Ryan Johansen said. “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.”
James Neal hit the 30-goal mark for the second time in his career when he sniped a shot past Joonas Korpisalo and into the twine at 3:04 of the first period to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. After Boone Jenner evened the contest for Columbus, Mattias Ekholm gave Nashville the lead back when he redirected the puck into the cage from the slot for his eighth of the season, a new career high. The Predators finished the first period with 27 shots on goal, setting a franchise record in the process.
The record books were altered once again in the second period when Craig Smith gave Nashville a 3-1 lead at 6:11. Roman Josi recorded his 43rd assist of the season on the goal, setting a franchise record for assists by a defenseman in a single season. Then it was Shea Weber’s turn, as he blasted a shot past Korpisalo on the power play for a 4-1 advantage. The goal was No. 164 of the Captain’s career, passing Martin Erat for sole possession of second all-time in Predators goal scoring.
Calle Jarnkrok added another goal only 23 seconds into the third period, and with it came yet another record for Josi, as he tied the franchise mark for most points by a defenseman in a single season with 56. Josi finished the night with three assists as Nashville set a season-high mark for most shots in a game with 48 overall.
At the other end of the ice, Pekka Rinne turned aside 18 shots for his 32nd victory of the season to give him a 12-1-2 record over his last 15 outings.
The win gives Nashville points in 10 consecutive home games with a 7-0-3 record during the stretch.
“I like the win tonight better than the [Vancouver game on Thursday, a 3-2 shootout win], but there something to be said about a comeback, with your team battling in the third period, overcoming something that wasn’t working for you, and pulling one out in a shootout,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “You never know what is going to happen on any given night, but we always seem to have a good response.”
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 over Columbus.
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 him 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.”
Welcome Back, Jones:
The Predators honored former Nashville d-man Seth Jones with the below tribute video during his return to Bridgestone Arena.
Gif of the Game:
Roman Josi ties the Predators record for points by a defenseman in a season with a dynamite pass to Calle Jarnkrok.
Ryan Johansen on facing and beating his former team for the first time:
“It’s awesome. I haven’t really had time to think about it, but just to be on the bench, out there on the ice, see how hard these guys worked, and know how badly I wanted to win it too. It was a unique situation for sure, a lot of emotion before, but it was a lot of fun. I’m so happy about how hard we played tonight.
Shea Weber’s 13 power-play goals lead all NHL defenseman in the category.
All-time, Nashville is 54-19-7 versus Columbus, including a 32-5-4 mark at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators finish their four-game home stand on Monday night when they host the Colorado Avalanche before hitting the road next week, making stops in Dallas and Pittsburgh.
Moving into No. 2 on the Predators all-time, goal-scoring list earns a place of prominence for Nashville’s captain.
Infographic: Preds Swat Blue Jackets