NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)—The Nashville Predators are back even and have set their sights higher than that.
The Predators are at .500 for the first time in more than a month following a 4-2 victory Wednesday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Nashville earned its third straight home victory and improved to 6-2 in its last eight games.
“For us it’s very important to be at .500,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Our players are tired of being mediocre. And the only ones that can change that are the guys in that room.
“The players want to do well. They want to take it to the next level. They want to get to the playoffs. That’s a great tool to have as a coach when you have everyone thinking that way.”
Scott Walker scored two goals, one on a power play and one when Nashville was short-handed.
“You never know what your look is going to be,” Walker said. “The two goals were both on great plays and we were able to connect. I’m just going to continue playing hard and hope my luck continues.”
That early goal added to concerns Trotz had before the game as the Predators just returned home following the end of a four-game road trip.
“The first period, Columbus was the better team,” Trotz said. “We were coming off a fairly long road trip. That first game after coming back home is always a very difficult one.”
The Predators rallied with a pair of goals in the first period.
Adam Hall ripped a shot from the top of the left circle that got under the crossbar at 7:10. Walker, who had missed six games because of a groin strain, scored on a five-on-three power play. He shot the puck across the crease from low in the left circle to beat goaltender Marc Denis.
Both teams were scoreless in the second period, despite Nashville recording 12 shots.
In the third, the Predators again scored twice. Vladimir Orszagh found the net at 1:59, and Walker scored his short-handed goal at 5:48.
“They were pretty aggressive,” Columbus’ Todd Marchant said. “We knew that would be the case going in. We couldn’t get anything generated and, as a result, we fell behind. We have to continue to learn from our mistakes.”
Manny Malhotra closed out the scoring at 17:51 by beating Vokoun with a one-timer from the slot.
“It was hard-fought game,” Columbus coach Doug MacLean said. “It was a 2-1 game late and it was a disappointing ending for us. But we battled hard.”
MacLean is concerned by the Blue Jackets’ road woes.
“It’s an issue when you haven’t won,” MacLean said. “The last few gameswe’ve played better. It’s going to come for us.”
Nash extended his point streak to four games (three goals, one assist). … Columbus’ Trevor Letowski has a point in each of his last four games (one goal, three assists). … Nashville’s David Legwand has four assists in threegames and seven (one goal, six assists) in seven games