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Nashville Predators 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 0

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

COLUMBUS -- Marek Mazanec made 19 saves for his second career shutout, and Matt Cullen and Nick Spaling each had a goal and an assist when the Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Wednesday.

Mazanec had not allowed more than two goals in his previous five games while filling in for injured Pekka Rinne. The rookie goalie was seldom tested early against the Blue Jackets, finishing with 19 saves.

Mazanec did get help midway through the final period, though, when a shot by Columbus center Michael Chaput hit the post. It was otherwise a clean effort by Mazanec in the ninth NHL game for the 2012 sixth-round draft pick.

The Predators (13-10-2) have won five of their past six games.

Nashville was nearly flawless in grabbing a 3-0 lead behind a first-period goal by Cullen and goals in the second by Mike Fisher and David Legwand. Each goal marked the player's fifth of the season.

The Blue Jackets (9-13-3) didn't reach double figures in shots until 90 seconds remained in the second period, when they were in the midst of their first power play, but the Predators increased their successful kills to 20 in a row over the past six games.

Fisher made it 2-0 on the power play 56 seconds into the second with the aid of a fortuitous bounce. The original shot from the blue line by Roman Josi hit a bevy of bodies in front of the goalmouth, including Gabriel Bourque. The puck landed in front of Fisher, who whacked it past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who finished with 25 saves.

Then a turnover by Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson allowed Legwand to skate through the crease for his fifth goal at 8:56. Viktor Stalberg and Bourque picked up the assists on Legwand's goal.

At that point, the Predators held a 22-6 advantage in shots on goal.

Spaling increased Nashville's lead to 4-0 at 2:02 of the third with a wrist shot from the right dot.

Columbus coach Todd Richards feared a letdown after a 6-0 win at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, and he saw it as the Blue Jackets' Jekyll and Hyde persona resurfaced. On their five-game trip through Canada, they lost twice by a combined 13-2 score and won three times by outscoring the opposition 12-2.

The Predators jumped on the Blue Jackets from the opening puck drop, and Cullen gave the Predators a hard-earned lead at the 9:58 mark as they applied constant pressure on Bobrovsky.

Cullen snuck behind defenseman Ryan Murray low in the right circle and waited for a pass from Ryan Ellis. The defenseman obliged as Ellis faked a slap shot from the left point before drilling a pass to Cullen for the one-timer that reached the back of the net before Bobrovsky could slide across the crease for the save.

Cullen has three goals and six assists in the past six games.

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