COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rick Nash and the Columbus Blue Jackets returned home and stayed on a roll.
Steve Mason made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th of his career, and Nash had a second-period goal and the Blue Jackets earned their fourth straight win with a 2-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.
The game was the first for Columbus since returning from a first-ever three-game sweep in California, and one against a divisional foe who typically has the Blue Jackets’ number.
“I think we had the same mentality as the road games,” said Nash, the league’s first star of the week with six goals in California. “We forget about our last game. We were just worrying about tonight against Nashville and that’s why I think we played so well.”
Nash tied the franchise record with points in nine straight games on a one-timer from the right circle past Pekka Rinne, who finished with 28 saves. On Saturday, Nash scored all three goals in the Blue Jackets’ shutout and first regulation win in San Jose. The captain also has goals in six straight games, one shy of the franchise record.
Mike Commodore also scored for Columbus (13-6-0), off to the best start in franchise history.
First-year Columbus coach Scott Arniel didn’t know how his players would respond after the long trip.
“I am very impressed with our team coming off that successful road trip,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to play. We did a good job of limiting their chances. It was a good start for us out of the gate and it helped our legs.”
It helped that Mason was solid all night, especially down the stretch. He calmly covered the puck on a late Nashville power play and handled Kevin Klein’s shot with eight seconds remaining.
“Mase was there when he needed to be and made some big stops,” Arniel said.
The league’s rookie of the year and shutouts leader two seasons ago, deflected the praise to his teammates.
“Obviously a shutout is a total team effort,” he said. “Much like we have had in our past couple of games, the defencemen have been great—a lot of blocked shots—and they are really making both goaltenders’ (Mathieu Garon) jobs easier.”
Columbus fended off early chances around its net before settling in and scoring in the first period.
Commodore pushed up the right side, took a cross-ice pass from RJ Umberger and fired at low shot past Rinne for his second goal of the season at 8:37.
“I was a little disappointed that in terms of that we didn’t come out with a little more pop,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We had too many guys who were passengers tonight.”
The Blue Jackets’ second score was similar to their first, instead the puck went from Derick Brassard to Jake Voracek to Nash, who scored his team-leading 13th.
“Things are just going in right now,” Nash said. “It’s been fun playing with Jake and Brass. They’ve been setting me up. I’ve been setting them up. There’s been a lot of chemistry. Things are good.”
NOTES: Blue Jackets defenceman Marc Methot suffered an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return. … Nashville finished its trip 2-2. … Commodore, out most of the season with an injured thumb, has two goals in six games. He had that many in 57 games last season.