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Gaborik’s game winner lifts ‘Jackets to first regulation win in Nashville in years

(Photo by: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators started the post-Martin Erat era with a 3-1 loss to Central Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets. This win snapped allowed Columbus to record their first regulation win at Bridgestone Arena since 2006.

It was quite the goaltending dual as Pekka Rinne and Sergei Bobrovsky were trying to one up each other and keep their respected teams in the game. However, Bobrovsky played a better game making acrobatic save after acrobatic save. “The number one cop on the force” stopped 38 shots in his 13th win of the season.

“Their goalie had a good night,” said Preds’ forward Craig Smith, who was a -1. “We put up a lot of shots and a lot of quality chances, but they just didn’t go in.”

Newly acquired Marian Gaborik scored the game winner for the Blue Jackets and added an assist as well. Gaborik has had the Predators’ number in his career scoring thirteen goals in 28 career games against them.

The Blue Jackets’ line of Gaborik, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov was dominating the Predators along the boards the entire night. “The Dubinsky line did a really good job keeping it down low, really making you work to get you off them,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “We didn’t have an answer for them.”

Matt Calvert was able to add insurance to the lead 10:50 in the third after his first “goal” was disallowed because he kicked it in. Calvert’s goal uncharacteristically got passed Rinne, who would stop that shot nine times out of ten.

“The third goal really hurt us. It took a little bit of steam out of our bench,” said Trotz.

Nashville’s lone goal scorer was defenseman Kevin Klein, who led all players in shots with six. Following the goal, Klein experienced a slight scare. Seconds before the end of the second period, he took a shot from Nikita Nikitin in the helmet. The shot stunned Klein, but was okay and finished the remainder of the game.

If Klein suffered an injury, the Predators would be in deep trouble having trading Scott Hannan at the deadline and with Victor Bartley suffering an undisclosed injury, leaving no extra defenseman to come in.

The entire game was played in not the ideal circumstances for Nashville. Columbus was playing north and south hockey, using their speed to move the puck up and down the ice. The Preds do not have that type of speed and skill to play that game, but rather work hard in the gritty areas of the ice. Often they were defeated in that area of the game as well.

“[Columbus] has a lot of great forwards, and their defense is solid and they have great goaltending,” said Ryan Ellis, who was called up prior to the game. “It’s a solid team over there.”

Fisher returns: Due to not fully recovering from his bruised hand injury, Mike Fisher played right wing on a line with Sergei Kostitsyn and centered by Paul Gaustad. Fisher’s bruised hand limited his abilities in the faceoff dot and Trotz decided to put Fisher in replacement of Erat.

Fisher was a -1 Thursday night and totaled 16:37 of ice time.

What’s next for Nashville?: The Predators find themselves in quite a tough position to make the playoffs, but it isn’t unreachable yet. After losing to a new and improved Blue Jackets team, they find themselves in eleventh place out of the Western Conference and one point out of a playoff spot. The catch is however, Nashville has played more games than the teams in front of them.

“We have ten games left, so just keep moving forward,” said Smith.

Goals and Assists

1-0 CBJ: PP James Wisniewski – Dubinsky and Gaborik at 8:36 in the 2nd

1-1 tie: Kevin Klein – Hornqvist and Legwand at 12:14 in the 2nd

2-1 CBJ: Marian Gaborik – Dubinsky (2) and Calvert at 4:16 in the 3rd

3-1 CBJ: Matt Calvert – Tyutin at 10:50 in the 3rd

My Three Stars of the Game

1. Sergei Bobrovsky: 38 saves on 39 shots

2. Marian Gaborik: Goal & Assist

3. Brandon Dubinsky: 2 Assists

Predators’ scratches: #19 W Bobby Butler, #57 W Gabriel Bourque (upper body) and #64 D Victor Bartley (undisclosed)

Blue Jackets’ scratches: #14 W Blake Comeau (immigration), #20 D Tim Erixon and #40 W Jared Boll