Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Ron Hainsey (6) fights Nashville Predators left wing Vernon Fiddler (38) for the puck in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Mark Humphrey
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nashville Predators don't have the big guns they had last season, but they do have one of the hottest lines in the NHL.
J.P. Dumont extended the longest current points streak in the NHL to 16 games with two assists and the Nashville Predators beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Thursday night.
His linemates Alexander Radulov and Jason Arnott were the recipients of those assists, each scoring a goal. Radulov has at least one goal in each of his last five games. Arnott has points in his last eight games.
"We know that is our role," Dumont said. "It is good pressure. That is the pressure that you want as a hockey player. You want to be the go-to guy.
"You want to be on the ice when we need a goal. That's what we are doing now. It is something that comes with experience. We are the guys that have to do it."
Also scoring for Nashville were Vernon Fiddler and Scott Nichol.
Dumont finished the month of January with 20 points. Only Washington superstar Alex Ovechkin had a better month, with 23 points.
"When I signed here two years ago I knew I was going to have an offensive role," Dumont said. "Every line is scoring some big goals. But the prime lines are going to be the first two lines. They have to score goals."
Nikolai Zherdev and Dan Fritsche scored for Columbus.
Radulov wasted little time putting the Predators on the board. Moving forward midway through the slot, he blasted a one-timer between the leg pads of goaltender Pascal Leclaire 26 seconds after the opening face-off.
"I thought we came out strong," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "It was a great way to start the game with a goal on our first shift. It helped give us momentum. I thought that carrying the first period was very beneficial to us."
Arnott scored at 11:48 on the power play as Dumont found him in the middle of the slot. Arnott's one-timer went past Leclaire low to his glove side.
Arnott left the game in the second period with a leg injury. Trotz called he decision to take Arnott out of the game a precautionary move. He is expected to be back for Saturday's game against Phoenix.
The Blue Jackets struck back quickly in the second. Zherdev skated around the back of the net and fired a shot across the crease that bounced off goaltender Chris Mason and into the net on the power play 34 seconds into the period.
At the 8:59 mark of the second, Darcy Hordichuk passed the puck to Fiddler as he skated past the Blue Jackets defence. Fiddler's one-timer from the left circle found the right side of the net, beating Leclaire wide and low to his glove side.
Fritsche cut the lead to one, beating Mason with a shot between his leg pads at 11:09.
The Predators built a 4-2 lead at 13:58 when Scott Nichol fought through the crowd and backhanded a shot from the edge of the crease. The puck went into the right side of the net as Leclaire tried to stop it with an outstretched leg.
The Predators outshot Columbus 33-31. Mason enjoyed the early scoring cushion.
"When you score that quick there really isn't any time to relax," Mason said. "Columbus has a lot of guys who can put the puck in the net.
"But it is a good feeling when you get on the board first. You could tell that we were buzzing around and playing pretty well. We stayed disciplined most of the game."
A lack of discipline by the Blue Jackets was one of the concerns for coach Ken Hitchcock, who pointed to his team's nine penalties. It was the second straight loss for the Blue Jackets in Nashville.
"We took too many penalties," Hitchcock said. "We haven't played well enough to win. It's always the first period. You can't dig yourself a hole like we did."
At the start of the third period Hitchcock pulled Leclaire for Fredrik Norrena, who turned back all eight shots he faced.
"It was 4-2 and we were looking for a boost," Hitchcock said. "Leclaire wasn't playing poorly."
The Predators moved into a tie with Vancouver for eighth place in the Western Conference standings.
"Our players are aware of the standings, but we don't dwell on it," Trotz said. "We have to focus on the next game."
Notes: The Predators have a power play goal in each of their last five home games. ... Sergei Federov missed his sixth game for Columbus because of a concussion. ... Adam Foote was back for Columbus after missing Tuesday's game with the flu. ... Hordichuk earned his first assist of the season.