Scoring first and early: After allowing an early goal in their Saturday loss to the Wild, the Predators quickly struck Sunday. Defenseman Ryan Ellis’ goal, his ninth this season, at 2:24 was Nashville’s third-fastest to start a game this season, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Predators needed it, because the Blue Jackets were the aggressors through most of the game, digging out of a 2-0 hole and tying the score at 3 in the opening minutes of the third period.
Saros strong: The reason why the Predators were able to maintain their lead through most of the game was because of the play of goaltender Juuse Saros in his 12th start this season. He stopped all 19 Columbus shots in the first period.
Fiala’s turn: Nashville has been looking for a left wing to play on captain Mike Fisher’s line. Kevin Fiala, recalled from the minors Saturday, had his turn against Columbus and made an impression in his first NHL game since Jan. 12, scoring on a heads-up play in the second period. With five more games before the NHL trade deadline, that position is one worth monitoring.
Johansen’s return: Nashville and Columbus met Sunday for the third time since the teams swapped center Ryan Johansen and defenseman Seth Jones in a January 2016 trade, but it was the first time Johansen returned to Nationwide Arena. The reception he received waffled between unfriendly and indifferent. Johansen, held scoreless Sunday, played his 100th game with the Predators. He has 74 points with Nashville, tied with forward Filip Forsberg for the team lead since Johansen arrived.
Up next: The Predators play their next four games at Bridgestone Arena, starting with a pivotal matchup against the Flames on Tuesday. Calgary trails Nashville by two points in the Western Conference wild-card race.