Photo by John Russell
Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves Friday to record his 18th career shutout.
The Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 Friday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Defenseman Shea Weber posted a goal and an assist and goaltender Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves to record the shutout.
With the victory, Nashville won its fourth game in a row and improved its season record to 30-11-3. Vokoun's shutout was his second of the season and 18th of his career. It came in just his second game back in net after missing 20 games with a hand injury.
"It's great for Tomas to be able to pick [the shutout] up and do it with some great saves too," Sullivan said. "He made some outstanding saves and we're going to need him down the stretch if we're going to be successful. We all know that so it's great to see him get back so quickly."
Weber gave the Predators a 2-0 lead 9:11 into the second period after he held an attempted clear in at the right point of the Columbus zone. Weber fired a high wrist shot that found its way into the net over the shoulder of Blue Jackets goaltender Fredrik Norrena. The sticks of teammate Scott Hartnell and a Columbus defender were close to the puck's path as the two players blocked Norrena's view.
"I think it went straight in," Weber said. "It was a good job by [Hartnell] coming across and I think [Norrena] just lost sight of it at the last second and it happened to go in."
Earlier the Predators capitalized on a fortuitous bounce on a dump-in by Weber to make it 1-0 at 13:08 of the first period. Weber's attempted hard wrap around the boards behind the Columbus net hit a glass support and dropped behind the goal cage. J.P. Dumont was the first player there and he sent a pass out front to Jason Arnott for a bang-bang play that ended with the puck past Norrena for the first goal of the game.
"I honestly lost it when it went up in the glass," Weber said when asked about the play. "It must have hit a seam and dropped right down because J.P. got it right behind the net."
Nashville probably should have had a bigger lead heading into the first intermission, but Norrena stopped David Legwand on a point-blank chance one minute into the game then Martin Erat missed a mostly open net when he ripped a rebound wide with over six minutes gone.
Columbus, tied for last in the Central Division and missing some key players Friday, nearly had the first goal of the game, getting a puck across the goal line at 3:52. The red light went on to indicate a goal but the referee immediately waved off the play, saying Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun had been interfered with. Vokoun was especially strong in the first half of the opening period, when Columbus was pressuring and generated quality scoring chances by forwards Geoff Platt, Dan Fritsche and Gilbert Brule. The Blue Jackets outshot the Predators 10-9 in the opening 20 minutes.
"Tomas, he definitely held us in it early," Weber said. "He made some big saves and it's good to see him playing the way he can."
The Predators put the defensive clamps on Columbus, limiting the visitors to just five shots on goal in the second period and seven in the third. Nashville outshot the Blue Jackets for the game, 24-22.
"I think they had their best chances maybe in the first period and then after that I thought we did a real good job of keeping them to the outside, taking away and limiting their chances. Real solid. To me it was a real good team shutout with Tomas having to make a couple key saves when we needed it and the team playing a real solid two-way game. It was a real good game against a team that played real hard."
"It was a tough game because they were missing some players and it's a team that always works hard," Vokoun said. "We approached it as professionals and it's a sign of maturity of the team when you're able to play like we did today against a team maybe you could, in our position, maybe take lightly or lose your focus."
The Predators will face the Blue Jackets again on Saturday when the clubs complete the back-and-back, home-and-home series with a 6:00 p.m. CT matchup in Columbus' Nationwide Arena.
NOTES: Jason Arnott now has five goals in the last five games (5g-3a=7pts). His goal Friday was his fifth game-winning goal, which leads the Predators... J.P. Dumont had an assist and now has points in five straight games (1g-6a=7pts)... Shea Weber posted a goal and an assist for his sixth multipoint game of the season--his first since Dec. 4... Nashville only allowed 22 shots to the Blue Jackets, holding the opposition to less than 30 shots for the first time since Dec. 20... Friday's shutout was the seventh of the season for the Predators and the second for Vokoun... The Predators went 2-for-2 on the penalty kill and are now 21-for-23 in the last six games... Nashville won its fourth straight game and is now 12-3-0 over its last 15 contests... The Predators are 15-3-3 at home this season and have recorded three straight home wins... The Predators are 20-5-1 when scoring first and 20-1-3 when leading after two periods... Nashville is 12-3-1 against Central Division opponents this season and 4-0-0 against Columbus... Friday night the Predators played the first of six games in nine nights before the All-Star break... Nashville is the third NHL team to reach the 30-win mark (30-11-3)... Darcy Hordichuk was scratched for the Predators.
PREDATORS HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
On the topic of being more defensive minded tonight
We made a real conscious effort of not beating ourselves. We knew they had a couple of guys out of the lineup, guys like Fedorov and some of their ' big guns' if you will. So a lot of times when you have that happen your whole team sort of rallies to play a hard working game, a more structured game, play solid team defense and that's what they did. We had to capitalize on our chances and we did, and they key then once you get the lead you don't want to let them back in the game by trying to force things that aren't there. So I thought the guys really managed the game really well. You know when its not there they put pucks deep and when it was there they drove pucks to the net.
Now Columbus played with a lot of structure to their game, a real hard game and so I was real happy with our discipline, our goaltending, our special teams so I think the guys came to play, they battled, they didn't give Columbus a whole lot of chances. I mean though in the first period they (Columbus) did have a few chances and we didn't react to a couple of things because we hadn't seem them play really - had only really seen them on tape but you actually have to play them to get a real feel for the team. You know I think they had their best chances in the first period then after that I thought we did a really good job of keeping them to the outside, taking away and limiting their chances.
Real solid you know to me this was a real good team shutout, Tomas having to make a couple of key saves when we needed it, we played a real solid two-way game. I thought it was a real good game against a team that played real hard. You know Norrena played hard, he played real good, we could have had a couple of more goals but from that standpoint we didn't let them back in the game which was real solid and at the end of the game, the last minute and a half the last 1:57 I thought we did a great job of defending and doing things defensively to not let them back in the game, get momentum in the end.
On the topic of the Blue Jackets being a 'different' team tomorrow if they get some of their star players back
Well they'll be a bit different, you know you see several times where you know look at a team like Calgary who's missing Iginla but now they're not destroying teams but they're really playing well right now with their big guy out. A lot of times that happens when you know a couple of weeks ago Toronto had sundin out and I think they won 4-5 in a row with him out and then he came back and they lost 4 or so in a row. Sometimes your team relies on those key guys and they don't have that team effort but I thought Columbus did (have team effort without their key guys).
PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On his getting a shutout his second game after his return
"Obviously, for me, it's the key to have good results. I'm just so happy the team is playing the way it's playing. I think guys understand we have a good team and if we want to achieve special things, then we have to play a certain way. If we do, we are going to be tough to beat. It was a tough game (for Columbus), because they are missing some players. It's a team that always works hard, but we approach it as professionals. It's a sign of maturity of the team when we're able to play like we did today. On a game like today, some teams in our position could take lightly or lose their focus, but we didn't."
On being defensively strong
"It's tough. They changed their style, totally. They have a new coach and they play a kind of system. It's not going to be anymore of those 8-4 games we used to play against them. They have a totally different philosophy now. They scores aren't going to be as high as they used to be in the past, just because their philosophy is different and they aren't going to give up as many chances as they used to.
PREDATORS DEFENSEMAN SHEA WEBER
On how to focus while playing back-to-back games against Columbus
"I think just staying focused, staying with the task at hand. We know what we have to do and we aren't going to take anyone lightly."
On the awkward bounce the led to the first goal
"I lost it when it went up into the glass, and it must have hit the seam and dropped right down, because J.P. (Dumont) got it right behind the net."
On why Nashville has beaten Columbus in all four meetings this year
"They are a good team. We have had good games against them all year. We can't take them lightly and we have to make sure we are ready for them tomorrow."
On his goal
"I think it went straight in, I think it was a screen. Good job by (Hartnell) coming across and I think he just lost sight of it at the last second and it happened to go in."
PREDATORS FORWARD STEVE SULLIVAN
On playing defensively
"Well we talked about it after last game, with Tomas (Vokoun) coming back and being out for so long, we wanted to be good in front of him. We wanted to try and minimize the great scoring chances and minimize second chances. They are a different club than we have seen in the previous three meetings against them, so we wanted to make sure we were ready for them. We didn't know what to expect. We knew they had bettered themselves since the coaching change, their work-ethic was better, and they were going to come after us. I just think that we were well prepared for a grinding little war tonight."
On Tomas Vokoun getting a shutout
"It's great for Tomas to pick it up and do it with some great saves too. He made some outstanding saves. We are going to need him down the stretch if we are going to be successful. We all know that. It's great to see him get back so quickly. Hopefully, he can continue."
On playing back-to-back against Columbus
"I don't mind. Back-to-backs are going to happen. It's not the end of the world. Having to face them again next week is a little bit ridiculous, since it's the second time this year. It puts a little bit more of a playoff feeling to it, little bit more of that atmosphere. We won't have to watch as much tape, since we've just seen them tonight. So, that's the positive side.
COLUMBUS FORWARD ANSON CARTER
On the lack of goal scoring
"I think sometimes when you got nothing going you just gotta throw pucks at the net. Just keep funneling pucks towards the crease and look for a break in front of the net"
COLUMBUS FORWARD FREDRIK MODIN
On the lack of goal scoring
"The chances are there and every time you get the chance its just reassurance you are doing something right. I got a lot of chances tonight but it's just not enough. You gotta put the puck in the net"
COLUMBUS HEAD COACH KEN HITCHCOCK
Overall impression of the game
"Usually when you don't capitalize on those chances in the first period it comes back to haunt you."
On Vokoun's performance
"Both goalies were really good today. Our guy was good, [Vokoun] had a real good game. He played well."
On the first period
"The first period, that's when we had most of our scoring chances and we capitalized and created some turnovers and had glorious chances."
"You allow two goals on the road especially with who's in our line up that's pretty good stuff."