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Predators blank Blue Jackets 4-0

The SportsXchange

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Goaltender Marek Mazanec is starting to make the Nashville Predators feel a whole lot better while All-Star Pekka Rinne is healing.

Then again, plenty of NHL goaltenders would have looked good facing the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

Mazanec, a 22-year-old rookie, pitched a 19-save shutout -- his second perfect outing in eight days -- as the Predators blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 at Nationwide Arena.

"Maz was good when he needed to be," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "The first 30 minutes it was pretty quiet back there. It was a pretty easy night for him. It was a team win.

"He had to make a couple of saves, and he made them. But if you talk to Maz, he'd probably give credit to everybody in front of him, because they played a big part in it."

Centers Matt Cullen, Mike Fisher, David Legwand and Nick Spaling scored for the Predators, while left winger Gabriel Bourque and defenseman Ryan Ellis had two assists each.

The Predators have won five of their last six games after suffering a four-game losing streak earlier this month.

"We played smart and managed the puck," Trotz said. "We played fast early, too. We defended hard. We had some critical blocked shots when we needed. We won some one-on-one battles.

"Our defensive game was really good, and that's where the offensive part of our game evolves from."

The Blue Jackets looked lethargic after returning Monday from an eight-day, five-game road trip through Canada. They lost five of their last six games at Nationwide.

Less than 48 hours after a 6-0 rout in Toronto, the Jackets suffered their worst home loss this season.

"It looked like we lacked energy," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "We lacked another step. That's not an excuse. You have to find a way. Whether it's digging down to find more energy, or managing the puck better, there's a way to win the game tonight, and we didn't do it.

"Early on, we lost a lot of battles. Whenever there was a battle of the puck, they came away with it. It was just too easy a game for their defensemen."

Mazanec improved to 5-1 with a .955 save percentage in his last six starts. He also has beaten Chicago, Detroit, Toronto and Phoenix. He had a 27-save shutout -- a 2-0 win -- against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 19.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky continued his spotty play, stopping 25 of 29 shots. While he got no support offensively, Bobrovsky got very little defensively, too, as the Blue Jackets suffered several breakdowns and were outhustled to several loose pucks.

The Blue Jackets were outshot 14-4 in the first period, which set a tone for the entire evening.

At 9:58 of the first, Ellis made a picture-perfect cross-zone pass to Cullen, who one-timed the puck inside the near post before Bobrovsky could get there.

Only 54 seconds in the second, the Predators pushed the lead to 2-0 on the power play. Bourque's shot struck Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski and dropped into the slot, where Fisher stood to bury it.

Legwand made it 3-0 at 8:56 of the second when he outhustled two Blue Jackets to a loose puck in front of Bobrovsky.

The lead grew to 4-0 early in the third. At 2:02, Spaling wired a wrist shot through traffic and past Bobrovsky.

"It's a complete game," Ellis said. "We jumped on them early, our goaltender was solid, the play in front of him was solid and we jumped on our chances in their end of the ice. We rode it out."

NOTES: An MRI for injured Predators G Pekka Rinne was pushed to early December, the club announced. Rinne has been out since October with an infection in his hip. ESPN reported the infection was E coli. The MRI was delayed because of scheduling difficulty around the Thanksgiving holiday, the Predators said. ... Blue Jackets C Brandon Dubinsky is out indefinitely with a bone bruise in his lower left leg. He missed his fourth straight game. ... With Dubinsky sidelined, the Blue Jackets are without their three highest-paid forwards: RW Marian Gaborik ($7.5 million), RW Nathan Horton ($5.3 million) and Dubinsky ($4.65 million). ... Nashville was sad to see the Blue Jackets head to the Eastern Conference. The Predators are 50-23-1 all-time against the Blue Jackets.
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