Erat-Arnott-Dumont line shines as Preds win 4-1
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:13 AM
The big guns stepped it up for Nashville on Monday night, as the line of Martin Erat
, Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont combined for all four goals and a total of nine points to lead the Predators to a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The win improves the Preds to 7-1-1 in their last nine games and extends their unbeaten streak against the Jackets to 10 games.
Nashville has played six of its last seven games on the road, collecting an impressive nine of a possible 12 points in those away contests.
“It can be a lot harder to win on the road, but our guys have bought into the style of play we have to play on the road in order to be successful,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “We have gotten a great all-around effort, with different contributions every night. They have really taken ownership of the team, the style of play, and that has allowed us to get back in the grouping of the Western Conference.”
On the back end, Chris Mason gave his team yet another outstanding effort in net, stopping 29-of-30 shots to win his third game in the last four outings.
A slick give-and-go gave the Predators a 1-0 lead for the eighth time in this nine-game hot stretch at 6:39 of the first. Dumont, with his back to the net, sent the puck to linemate Jason Arnott on his right-hand side, then quickly spun in front of the Columbus net, where he tapped a return feed past goalie Pascal Leclaire for his fifth goal of the season. Erat collected his first of four points on the night, setting a career high (2g-2a).
“That line really stepped it up tonight,” Trotz said. “I talked to them after Saturday’s game and they felt like they could have played a lot better, and they did tonight. I was really impressed with their leadership in stepping up and producing when the other team is mashing up against them, trying to shut them down.”
The Blue Jackets responded 15 seconds later to knot the game at one apiece. After being the recipient of a Nashville turnover at the top of right face-off circle, David Vyborny walked into the slot and provided the only shot that beat Mason all night, sticking it five-hole.
|Mason was outstanding all night, stopping 29-of-30 shots.
Nashville painlessly killed a penalty midway through the first, and used that momentum to reclaim a one-goal lead at 12:33 on a great individual effort by Erat. Streaking down the right wing, Erat put on a clinic on how to use your body to shield the puck while driving to the net. He pushed d-man Rostislav Klesla aside while cutting into the slot and snapping a quick wrister past Leclaire. In a span of just 5:54, Erat captured his second multi-point effort of the season.
“Both sides were skating – we got off to a great start getting those two early goals with give-and-goes and driving to the net,” Trotz said. “That Marty Erat goal was beautiful.”
Nashville continued its attack early in the second, coming inches from taking a two-goal lead just 2:15 into the frame. A whistling Jed Ortmeyer shot as he cut down the left side created a resounding “clang” that echoed through the arena when it caught the post and the puck popped out the other side.
The disdain these two squads have for each other became evident at the 7:11 mark of the second period when Scott Nichol took exception to a hit along the boards rookie Jared Boll laid on fellow first-year NHLer Ville Koistinen. Despite giving up five inches and more than 30 pounds, the Preds grinder went toe-to-toe with Boll, and when all was sorted out following the ensuing scrum, Nashville had its first of two power plays in the middle period.
A smooth back-and-forth flow developed over the remainder of the frame, with the Preds ultimately holding the advantage in shots, 11-8.
The Columbus pressure began to mount early in the third, and it sustained a presence in the Nashville zone for the majority of the first half of the final period, but the Predators, being the opportunists that they are, capitalized on one of their limited scoring chances at 11:43. It was once again the No. 1 scoring line that stepped up, as Arnott pounced on a Blue Jacket turnover and set up Erat between the hash marks. Leclaire made the initial save, but Dumont was on the doorstep to pound home his second marker of the evening.
Arnott’s two-assist night gave him points in six of the past eight contests (3g-6a), and vaulted him into the team lead for points with 16 (6g-10a), while Dumont’s two-goal performance was his first multi-goal outing this season.
|Alexander Radulov controls the puck in front of Columbus Blue Jackets' Rostislav Klesla.
With a two-goal lead, it was Mason’s time to shine. Two minutes after the goal, the BJs began to bear down on the Preds netminder – their best chance came on initial shot by Nikolai Zherdev that seemed to handcuff Mason from the right face-off circle, and rebound opportunities by Curtis Glencross and Jiri Novotny. Mason was up to the task, stoning each attempt and eventually icing the puck.
"I believe goaltending is the most important position in all of hockey,” Trotz said. “It is the one position that can breed so much confidence, and we have gotten great goaltending from both Dan Ellis and Mase over this stretch. Mase has found himself, but I never had any doubt that he would.”
The Preds iced it away with 27.6 seconds left, when Erat fired his second goal of the game into an empty net with authority.
The Predators now head back to the Music City for a 7 p.m. CT matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night. Tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging on to ticketmaster.com or nashvillepredators.com, and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office located in the arena tower. The game is also “College Night,” and “Hockey Happy Hour,” with $2 beers through the first intermission.
Game Notes: Kevin Klein
and Darcy Hordichuk were scratched for Nashville. Columbus sat Duvie Wescott, Jody Shelley and Michael Peca… The Preds are now 8-0-0 when scoring first and 5-0-1 in November… Columbus was 0-for-1 on the power play, while Nashville finished 0-for-3… The Predators outshot the Blue Jackets 31-30, the first time they have outshot an opponent in seven games… Marek Zidlicky led the Preds in ice time with 21:55 played… Both Greg Zanon and Dan Hamhuis registered three hits, while Zanon also led the team in blocked shot with two… Jordin Tootoo
and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen received 10-minute misconducts following the Nichol-Boll fight in the second period… The Preds are 3-0-1 after four of eight straight games against Central Division opponents.