Shea Weber had a goal and an assist, Vokoun stopped 22 shots in his second game back from a torn tendon in his left thumb, and the Predators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-0 Friday night for their fourth straight victory.
The 22 shots were the second fewest Vokoun has faced this season.
“We talked about it after the last game, Tomas coming back and being out for so long,” Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said of Vokoun missing 21 games. “We wanted to be good in front of him. We wanted to minimize the great scoring chances and minimize second chances.”
That they did. Columbus took 10 shots in the first period and had a flurry in the final minutes.
“Obviously, for me, it’s the key to have good results,” Vokoun said. “I’m just so happy the team is playing the way it’s playing.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz called it a team shutout.
“I was real happy with our discipline. I was real happy with our goaltending. I was happy with our special teams. The guys, they came to play,” Trotz said.
Jason Arnott also scored in the game in which each team had a goal waved off in the opening minutes because of goalie interference. The Predators, second in the Western Conference in points, are 12-3 in their past 15 games.
The Predators also haven’t lost to Columbus this season, winning the fourth of eight games against their Central Division foe. The teams meet again Saturday night in Columbus, and the Blue Jackets might get centre Sergei Fedorov back. He was left home due to an elbow injury.
Nashville took advantage of the depleted Blue Jackets, who didn’t have forwards Fedorov, Rick Nash, and Jody Shelley (eye), or defencemen Adam Foote (back spasms) and Duvie Westcott (concussion). Nash, Columbus’ second-leading scorer, was placed on the injured list Thursday with a back problem.
The Blue Jackets had coach Ken Hitchcock behind the bench against Nashville for the first time and outshot the Predators 10-9 in the first period.
“You allow two goals on the road, especially with who is in our lineup, that’s pretty good stuff,” Hitchcock said.
They just couldn’t solve Vokoun, and lost their third straight.
“He had a real good game,” Hitchcock said of Vokoun. “He played well.”
Vokoun posted his 18th career shutout, second this season and first since returning Tuesday.
Both teams thought they scored early only to have the goals immediately nullified by officials.
Alexandre Picard poked the puck in off a rebound but the goal didn’t count because Geoff Platt was whistled for interference when he backed into Vokoun at the edge of the crease at 3:52.
Paul Kariya wiped out Nashville’s goal when he interfered with Fredrik Norrena at 6:34. Kariya took the goalie down away from the crease as the Predators got the puck past three Blue Jackets who tried to fill the net.
Arnott put the Predators up 1-0 at 13:08 of the first. Weber passed the puck in behind the net where J.P. Dumont moved it to Arnott, who scored his 15th goal from the edge of the left circle.
Norrena made a nice pad save off Kariya within the first two minutes of the second, but he couldn’t stop Weber, who wristed a shot in from near the blue-line at 9:11. Weber said he thought Scott Hartnell screened Norrena, but the Predators didn’t complain.
“We’ll take the bounces for us any day,” Arnott said.
Notes: Nashville is 20-1-3 when leading after two periods. Columbus dropped to 2-20 when trailing after 40 minutes. … NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip, in town for a fundraiser, dropped the ceremonial first puck. … Nashville improved to 8-4 in the first of back-to-back games. … Arnott has eight points (five goals, three assists) in four games and eight goals in 10. Dumont has seven points in the past four contests.