Originally written on The Predatorial  |  Last updated 1/19/12

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators gets a drink against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on November 5, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Predators 4-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Photo Credit: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

An easy two points they weren’t, but it was two points nonetheless. Pekka Rinne stopped 38 shots, Martin Erat had a goal and an assist, and the Nashville Predators were able to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 for the fourth time this season.

Further buffering the distance between them and the final spot in the Western Conference playoff hunt, the Nashville Predators didn’t have the simplest of times tonight in defeating a newly-invigorated Blue Jackets team.

As the Jackets continually peppered Pekka Rinne with shots throughout the night, Nashville would get 2nd period goals from Martin Erat and a powerplay marker from Mike Fisher, which would be enough to seal the deal. Although Shea Weber launched a near-200 footer at the end of the game for a garbage empty netter, the game was much closer than the final result on paper.

With Derek Brassard and Rick Nash combining for 11 shots between the two, Pekka Rinne faced his fair share of close calls in a bid for his fourth shutout of the year. The closest call was in the third period as Brassard had a wide open empty net with Rinne spralled out to the right side of the goal mouth. Brassard wrapped himself around and shot it directly into Rinne who was about 4 feet from the center of the net.

As Brassard looked up to the sky in agony of what had just happened, so goes the Blue Jackets season.

Nashville finishes their 3 game road trip going 2-1-0 and will come home Saturday for a 2-game homestand against Chicago (Saturday) and Columbus (Monday) before going on the road for 7 out of their next 10 games.

While Saturday’s matchup against Chicago will be a “measuring stick” type of game for the Predators, and a very tough divisional matchup, Nashville needs to grab as many points as they can as they play a string of ultra-tough opponents when they start their road trip:

Jan 24th: At Chicago
Jan 31st: At Minnesota
Feb 2nd: At Philly
Feb 4th: vs St. Louis
Feb 7th: vs Vancouver
Feb 9th: At Ottawa
Feb 11th: At Boston
Feb 14th: vs Chicago
Feb 17th: At Detroit
Feb 19th: At Dallas

Those 10 games could be the make-or-break stretch for Nashville’s playoff hopes this season.

—————–

Special Teams:

Powerplay – 1 for 2, 50%
Penalty Kill – 3 for 3, 100%

Best Play of the Game: Shea Weber hurriedly fires a 200 foot slapper down the ice and right into the open net, giving him a shorthanded goal and Pekka Rinne’s 4th shutout of the season

Worst Play of the Game: N/A

My Three Stars:

#1: – Pekka Rinne – 38 saves on 38 shots, 4th shutout this season. Perfect game from The Eraser. Couldn’t have looked much better than he did tonight

#2: – Martin Erat – 1 goal, 1 assist, +1 on the night. 2 more points on the season for the resident Czech. Erat has been looking pretty sharp as of late, earning 7 points in his last 6 games

#3: – Francis Bouillon – +1 on the night, 0 points. Although he was kept off the stat sheet, he spent the majority of his 23+ minutes guarding Rick Nash tonight. Can’t tell me he doesn’t deserve a star tonight, keeping Nash in check.

———————————

Check back daily for news, updates and pre- and post-game information from The Predatorial.

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