Jerred Smithson had his first career two-goal game and Mason stopped 39 shots as the Predators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 Saturday night for their fifth straight win.
“It was shocking,” Smithson said of Nashville’s three-goal first period outburst. “We wanted to come out and play hard.”
Mason was two saves short of a career high for Nashville, which was outshot 22-4 in a scoreless third period and 40-17 overall.
“If it wasn’t for Mason, this game could have been a lot closer,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “They come out in the second and third with their A-plus game and beat us to the puck.”
Mason said it was like two types of games in one.
“We played really well in the first then they came out and really took it to us the last two periods,” he said. “We were lucky to hold on.”
Ron Hainsey had the only goal for Columbus, which has lost four straight overall and was outscored 6-1 in back-to-back losses to the Predators.
The Predators jumped to a 2-0 lead with two early goals 2:50 apart and then added one late. Columbus didn’t register its first shot until a little under five minutes left in the period, and were showered with boos as they skated off the ice.
“We took the crowd out of the game and we didn’t give them any chances,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of the opening period.
Ty Conklin replaced Fredrik Norrena – who allowed the three goals on nine shots – to start the second period.
An unnecessary rim pass by Columbus forward Nikolai Zherdev deep into his own zone led to the first Nashville score. The puck caromed off the skate of Nicol at the end boards to Josef Vasicek, who fired a shot on Norrena from the slot.
“The rebound was there and I just whacked it in,” Smithson said of his first score at 5:06.
After another turnover by Zherdev, this one near centre ice, Nicol sent a pass to a wide-open Smithson, who skated past defenceman Derrick Walser and zipped a low shot from the slot at 7:56 for his fifth of the season.
“I was just trying to get it on net and somehow found the twine,” Smithson said.
Looking like a five-on-five power play, Kariya took a cross-ice pass from David Legwand at the right circle and beat Norrena with a snap shot – his 15th goal – to give the Predators a 3-0 lead at 18:06.
Columbus’ Anson Carter hit the post the first minute of the second period and the Blue Jackets continued to press, outshooting the Predators 12-4.
Nashville got into penalty trouble, taking four consecutive penalties through the first 14 minutes. Columbus capitalized on the third at 10:28 with Hainsey at the point floating the puck through traffic past Mason after a diving pass from Zherdev.
Weber responded for the Predators during one of their few times in the Columbus zone during the period. With Nashville hounding the net with shots in quick succession, defenceman Aaron Johnson cleared the puck off the goal line, Conklin stopped a low shot and then Weber sneaked one in from the low slot to make it 4-1 at 16:07 with his eighth.
“I thought the big goal of the game was the fourth goal,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I told the players if we just get a second one, we’re going to win the hockey game.”
Notes: Columbus LW Rick Nash (back) missed his fourth consecutive game and C Sergei Fedorov (elbow) his third straight because of injuries. Captain and D Adam Foote (flu and back) missed his second straight. … Nash was selected Saturday as the only Blue Jackets player to the Western Conference All-Star team. … Nichol played his first game since being suspended for nine by the league for punching Buffalo’s Jaroslav Spacek from behind. … The Predators are 10-1-1 in back-to-back games this season.