Highlights from NHL.com
The Nashville Predators made a quick trip to Columbus and beat the Blue Jackets in short order 5-3 on the heels of Steve Sullivan's seventh career hat trick.
Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones also had goals for the Predators while Columbus received goals from R. J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette and Jakub Voracek in a high scoring affair.
The Predators got off to the quick start that they wanted. At 3:52 Steve Sullivan stole a loose puck near the blue line and circled back by the left boards and let loose of a slap shot that found the net behind the disappointed Steve Mason.
A little over a minute later, play became very disjointed during back to back penalties to the Pred's Ryan Jones and the Jackets Antoine Vermette with breakaways in both directions. Both Mason and Ellis held firm.
Joel Ward put Columbus on the power play on a hooking call at 14:29. Before play expired on the Jackets man advantage, Antoine Vermette blew the puck passed Dan Ellis who was being screened by Raffi Torrez in front of the net to make it a 1-1 game, which is how the period ended. The Predators out shot the Jackets 15-11 for the period.
The second period was a wild ride for both teams with plenty of power play time. The Preds were whistled for five penalties while the Jackets had two. Starting at 1:31, the Predators had back to back penalties to Sullivan and Weber which gave the Jackets 1:13 of 5 on 3 action but the Jackets were unable to convert.
At 8:27 Patric Hornqvist was able to take a David Legwand feed and put it past Mason for a go ahead goal. Twenty-five seconds later, Steve Sullivan converted for his second goal to give the Preds a two goal lead. Steve Mason looked completely frustrated after the second of the back to back goals.
Jason Arnott took a tripping penalty at 10:35 which led to the Jackets second power play goal by Jakub Voracek 34 seconds later to bring the Jackets back within a goal.
Steve Sullivan answered at 16:08 with his third goal of the game to give the Preds a 4-2 lead and his fourth hat trick as a Predator. For the period, the Preds out-shot the Jackets 12-9.
Columbus started the third period with more jump than they had earlier in the contest. At 6:18 in the third period Dan Hamhuis threw a wrister from behind the face off circle into a crowd in front of the Columbus net where it was redirected by Ryan Jones into the net to put the Preds ahead by three, 5-2.
The Predators put Columbus on their eight power play at 10:48 when Ryan Jones was called for hooking. The Preds survived the Columbus man advantage and brought their short handed time to a season high 11:22.
With the clock winding down, at 15:53, R. J. Umburger skated around the net for a wrap-around that went off Dam Hamhuis' skate and Dan Ellis' glove to find the goal line and bring the Jackets within two, 5-3, and make a game of it down the stretch.
The Predators held on for the final minutes to win their first win in Columbus since March 2008.
Storylines from the Game
Sully, Sully, Sully...
The reigning Masterton Trophy winner had a great game and was in the right place for a scoring opportunity on three occasions. It was only six nights ago that Marty Erat had another hat trick on home ice against Vancouver. The only negative to Sullivan's big night was that it was on the road so no hats were thrown onto the ice. Maybe he should do it again on Tuesday against the Lightning to get the full effect.
Dan Ellis Survived...
Dan Ellis rose to the occasion and played well enough for an important road win. Ellis stopped 28 of 31 shots including 7 of 9 on the Blue Jackets power play. He survived several break-away attempts early when the Preds continued to have problems with mis-handled pucks in the neutral zone.
Preds Win in Spite of a Few Negatives...
The Predators played a very uncharacteristically undisciplined game taking eight minor penalties, five of which were in the second period. The penalty kill gave up two goals on eight opportunities that totaled 11:22 of ice time.
The Preds won only 37% of the 59 face offs in the game and were in the high twenties percentage-wise late into the second period.
The Preds were also out shot 11-5 in the final period when Columbus started putting on significant pressure. For the game, Columbus led the Preds 62-51 in the Corsi numbers.
While everyone is pleased with the victory, these three negative areas are ones that the Predators need to keep an eye on for any negative trends that could become problematic over the long haul.
The Predators returned home after the game tonight and will play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at the Sommet Center. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. in the last game that the Preds play at home before Christmas.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass