Nashville Predators extend losing streak to four in Columbus

Having blown early opportunities to take a lead over the Blue Jackets during the first half of the game, the Nashville Predators fell into a 3-0 hole that was simply too deep to recover from, and ultimately lost 3-2, dropping their fourth straight game. Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist scored in the third period to bring the Preds to the point where they could at least try for the tying goal in the waning moments, but Columbus goaltender Steve Mason was able to close out the game, making 29 saves on 31 Nashville shots.

Follow after the jump for the video highlights, reaction, and advanced even-strength stats...

If video stays blank, check back in a few minutes.

By midway through the second period Nashville had plenty of chances to take command of this one. Leading on the shot board 14-6 at that point (including four minutes of powerless PP time), the fear is that your goaltender might relax a little. Pekka Rinne was definitely not on his top form tonight, as rebounds came loose for Blue Jackets forwards to gather in, and even though Dan Hamhuis swept one away since Derek Brassard was pressuring him near the crease, the puck went right to the point where a shot from Milan Jurcina came right back at them, allowing Brassard to tip it through Rinne for a 1-0 lead.

Then in the third period, things went completely awry. First, Columbus winger Fredrik Modin drew a bogus Hooking call on Jason Arnott, clutching Arnott's stick to his midsection and acting as if he was held up along the boards. Columbus scored on the resulting power play, and less than a minute later Modin struck again, banging home a loose puck in the crease that Rinne couldn't contain. Just like that, the Blue Jackets led 3-0 with 11:21 left to play, on just 16 shots.

So much for that idea of riding a hot goalie into the Olympic break...

Anyways, once they dug themselves that cavernous hole, the Preds did make a stab at a comeback. Martin Erat, who had a strong game in terms of putting the puck on net but a terrible one for passing, rang a shot off the inside of the far post to make it 3-1. He then set up Patric Hornqvist's 21st of the season by firing a shot that caromed off Mason into the slot, where Hornqvist immediately batted it home.

From there, Nashville did set up a few scoring chances in the final minutes, but it wasn't enough. Four straight losses have now dropped them to 7th place in the Western Conference, just two points ahead of Detroit, where the Predators play on Friday night. The Red Wings dropped a 5-4 decision in overtime to the Coyotes this evening.

The Preds return home Saturday, January 30 vs. Ilya Kovalchuk the Atlanta Thrashers. For discounted tickets to this or any other Nashville Predators home game, you can follow this link and use the special offer code "PREDS".

Looking at the advanced stats, the Smithson-Legwand-Erat line had a solid evening, while the 3rd defensive pair of Francis Bouillon and Cody Franson generated minimal offensive push. Wade Belak played all of 2:04. I'm guessing many Preds fans would have liked to see Colin Wilson get some time on the wing instead...

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Patric Hornqvist R 15:29 2 1 0 0 5 3 2 13 6 7
 Jason Arnott C 15:14 0 0 0 0 5 4 1 13 7 6
 Steve Sullivan L 14:33 1 1 0 0 4 4 0 10 12 -2
 David Legwand C 13:58 2 0 0 0 9 5 4 11 9 2
 Martin Erat R 13:43 3 0 0 0 8 4 4 14 7 7
 J P Dumont R 13:17 1 0 0 0 4 6 -2 4 10 -6
 Cal O'Reilly C 12:27 0 0 0 0 3 6 -3 3 9 -6
 Ryan Jones L 11:10 1 0 0 0 4 4 0 4 6 -2
 Jerred Smithson R 8:28 1 0 0 0 7 1 6 7 2 5
 Jordin Tootoo R 8:27 0 0 0 0 2 6 -4 3 9 -6
 Nick Spaling C 6:02 0 0 0 0 1 2 -1 2 3 -1
 Wade Belak R 2:04 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
 Ryan Suter D 25:43 3 1 0 1 7 7 0 12 13 -1
 Dan Hamhuis D 16:24 1 1 1 0 9 4 5 14 6 8
 Shea Weber D 15:01 1 1 2 0 6 7 -1 11 13 -2
 Kevin Klein D 14:29 1 2 0 1 8 4 4 13 6 7
 Francis Bouillon D 14:16 0 1 0 1 2 4 -2 3 11 -8
 Cody Franson D 13:39 0 0 0 1 2 4 -2 3 8 -5
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