The Nashville Predators continued their dominance of the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 5-3 win at Nationwide Arena. The win was the Predators third in three meetings this season against the BJ's and the 21st in their last 25.
Steve Sullivan obviously likes to play against the Blue Jackets, as he has 43 points in 39 games against the Central Division opponent. Tonight, he continued to feast on the Jackets as he notched his fourth hat trick as a Predator. Sully opened the scoring as he fired an unassisted slapshot over the glove of Jackets goalie Steve Mason.
The Predators controlled play for much of the first period until Antoine Vermette tied the game with a power play marker at 16:52, and both teams went to the locker room tied at the end of the first period.
Patric Hornqvist gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 8:27 of the second as he notched his seventh goal of the season. Just :25 seconds later, Sullivan knocked a rebound past Mason to give the Predators a 3-1 lead.
Three minutes later, Jakub Voracek scored on another power play goal, and at 3-2 it looked as if it was any one's game. The crowd was in to the game and the Jackets were buzzing (sorry, I couldn't resist).
Sullivan stepped up again to quieten the crowd with a blistering slapshot from the high slot for his third goal of the game. Sullivan had exerted his will in the offensive zone and had once again made the Jackets pay. His goal sucked the life out of the building and the BJ's.
Ryan Jones tallied his third goal of the season with a re-direct of a Dan Hamhuis wrist shot from the Blue line for a 5-2 lead. Although Columbus would get another goal as an R.J. Umberger shot would skitter off Dan Hamhuis' skate and past goalie Dan Ellis, this game was over. The Predators ran out the clock and went home with a 5-3 victory over a division rival.
Dan Ellis got the start and stopped 28 of 31 shots for a .903 save percentage. Ellis looked good in net for the most part and has continued to provide qualityminutes in the back up role. This type of play from Ellis will be critical for the Predators as the compressed schedule will require him to give the team some quality outings.
It goes without saying that these games against a division rival are critical for the Predators. They are trying to separate from Columbus, St. Louis, and Detroit, who are all behind them in the standings. They must continue to take care of business and pile up the wins. Against a team like Columbus, the Predators have to continue their dominance.
The Predators are now 19-11-3, and after a slow start, have started to string together wins and points. Their 41 points are good for 6th in the Western Conference and they sit one point behind 5th place Calgary.
These wins have come by playing within themselves and playing Predator hockey. Shoot the puck and go get rebounds; win battles in the corners and on the wall; play solid defense; and get sound goal tending. This is Predator hockey. Tonight, Predator hockey was on display.
Enjoy the win against the BJ's. You know what worked against them. Continue to apply those lessons in the coming games. Continue to pile up the wins. Continue to show the rest of the league that you will be a contender.