Predators continue dominance over Blue Jackets with 4-0 shutout win

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Mason made 33 saves for a career-high and franchise-record fifth shutout this season while David Legwand and Paul Kariya each had a goal and an assist as the Predators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 on Thursday night.

"I guess that's pretty cool, but it's definitely one that's going to be broken," Mason said of his record. "I guess it's cool to get it, and I honestly just wanted to win.

"That's really all that mattered."

With the victory, the Predators bounced back from a 5-3 loss at Detroit on Wednesday night with their NHL-best 33rd victory. Combined with Anaheim's 4-1 loss at Edmonton, the Predators moved atop the NHL for the first time in the franchise's eighth season.

Nashville has 69 points, one ahead of the Ducks and idle Buffalo.

"For the few moments of it," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of the franchise first.

Mason said his personal record was secondary.

"We passed Anaheim tonight . . . It was a big win," Mason said.

Mason had given up three goals in eight minutes after relieving Tomas Vokoun in a 5-3 loss at Detroit on Wednesday night.

Trotz's challenge now is whether to start Vokoun, who missed 21 games with a torn tendon and broken bone in his left thumb, or Mason on Saturday night against Chicago before the all-star break. Trotz said he sees strength in having two strong goalies.

"I don't have any concerns about Tomas' game. He's going to get that going, and there's a reason he's an elite goaltender in this league. He's mature. He expects that of himself. We expect that of him. When Mase is in, he expects to play well for us, and we expect that," Trotz said.

Steve Sullivan and Martin Erat also scored for Nashville, which beat Columbus for the sixth time in as many games this season.

This was the third time in seven days these teams have played each other following a back-to-back, home-and-home matchup last weekend. Columbus didn't have a handful of its best players in the first two, but was much healthier Thursday night.

Even Rick Nash was back after missing five games because of his back, though all the healthy Blue Jackets didn't help.

"When you play against a team like Nashville, your best players have to be your best players," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "That sets the tone.

"There are no other Xs and Os. They have to accept that responsibility."

Columbus outshot Nashville once again, 33-26. The Blue Jackets came into this game having outshot Nashville 149-119 through the first five games and then outshot the Predators 15-8 in the first period while trailing 2-0.

The Blue Jackets went 0-for-5 on the power play.

"It's plain and simple," Nash said. "They stick to their game plan, and we kind of wander off."

Nashville scored on its first shot when Legwand dug out the puck from behind the net and wrapped around the post in squeezing it past Ty Conklin at 4:07. Conklin stopped Shea Weber's shot with his stick, but the puck went behind the net to Arnott, who passed to Sullivan for his 15th goal.

Kariya scored his 16th at 10:11 of the second on a power play from the right circle off assists from Marek Zidlicky and Kimmo Timonen. The Predators now are 15-0 when Kariya scores. He added an assist in setting up Erat's ninth at 9:56 of the third.

Mason was much sharper against Columbus than against Detroit.

"We wanted this one, and we knew it was going to be tough because we played last night and they were waiting for us. Guys played a really solid game," Mason said.

The Blue Jackets tried to pressure Mason as much as possible, but his best save may have been a shot he grabbed and held on to with the edge of his glove despite having Nash trying to knock it down with his stick early in the third period.

Notes: This is the 11th time this season Columbus has been shut out . . . Nashville improved to 11-1-1 in the second of back-to-back games, 24-5-1 when scoring first and 14-4-1 in the Central Division . . . Kariya now has seven points in six games against Columbus . . . Columbus right-winger Nikolai Zherdev snapped a two-point, two-game streak . . . Nashville now has been outshot 1,535 to 1,312.


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