Short on defense but tough in goal, Blue Jackets shut out Predators

BY foxsports • November 20, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The suddenly surging Columbus Blue Jackets have turned adversity into a galvanizing force.

It doesn't hurt that Sergei Bobrovksy is playing like his former Vezina Trophy-winning self, too.

Bobrovsky made 39 saves in his 12th career shutout, Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen each had a goal and an assist and Columbus beat the Nashville Predators 4-0 on Friday night.

The Blue Jackets put together a mostly complete performance to improve to 8-13-0 after starting with eight straight losses, and they did so playing the majority of the game with only four defenseman. Columbus lost both Cody Goloubef (broken jaw) and Fedor Tyutin (upper body) late in the first period.

"They seemed to me that they got stronger as the game went on," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "Those four and Bob, you couldn't ask for any more as far as how they handled themselves."

Jack Johnson and David Savard logged heavy minutes -- 29:25 and 30:48, respectively.

"It's always tough going down to four D," defenseman Ryan Murray said. "But we got through it well. When we weren't there, Bob bailed us out."

Gregory Campbell and Scott Hartnell also scored and Columbus won for the fourth time in five games. Bobrovsky got his sixth win in seven starts with his first shutout this season.

Pekka Rinne had been excellent recently but surrendered goals on Columbus' first two shots 1:41 apart, and the Blue Jackets scored three times on their first nine shots. The Predators outshot Columbus 39-18.

"We made a couple of big mistakes," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "We were in the positions that we needed to be in and then we didn't follow through on assignments. It ended up costing us a couple goals."

Pesky forechecking by fourth-line wingers Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson, both recently recalled from the minors, led to Shea Weber coughing up the puck deep in his own zone. Rychel, behind the net, sent a nifty backhand pass to Campbell, and he scored from the low slot.

After a nice keep in the zone by Murray, Johansen made it a two-goal lead with his third of the season. Johansen patiently glided toward Renne and deked him down before flicking in a backhand.

In the second period, the Blue Jackets' top line struck again to give the thin blue-line corps a bit of breathing room on the scoreboard. This time it was Jenner at 5:17 with his team-leading 10th. On a counter 2-on-1 with Johansen, Jenner dove to get his own rebound and scored with Renne looking in the wrong direction trying to locate the puck.

"I thought that was probably the biggest goal," Tortorella said. "Knowing where we were at with our club, with our back end."

Nashville enjoyed a long stretch of zone time late in the period, but Bobrovksy was perfect. His best effort came on a stretching, left-pad save on sniper James Neal at the doorstep.

"I didn't think at all (that he was going to get it)," Bobrovksy said. "It's tough to explain."

Early in the third period on a penalty kill, Bobrovksy stopped a close-range deflection by Gabriel Bourque, then covered the rebound with Bourque whacking away.

Not much fazed Bobrovksy, including Neal taking a goalie interference penalty at 9:52 in what looked like him slightly sticking out his skate and causing Bobrovksy to fall to the ice.

"I'm so happy," Bobrovksy said about the shutout. "Thanks to the guys; they did a hell of a job. There were so many blocked shots. I think in the first it was 14 or 15. That's more than I stopped."

Hartnell scored his ninth into an empty net with 49 seconds remaining. Rinne was pulled for an extra attacker.

"I'm proud of the guys, just the way we protected the house," Johansen said. "We didn't really give them any grade-A opportunities. Just shots from the outside and Bob obviously with the game he played tonight."

NOTES: The Blue Jackets lost 3-0 in Ottawa on Thursday night. ... Nashville plays at Minnesota on Saturday. This kicked off a five-game road trip. ... Columbus won its third straight at home following six consecutive losses in Nationwide Arena to start the season. ... The Predators went 0 for 3 on the power play. ... The Blue Jackets finished with 26 blocked shots compared to eight for Nashville.

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