Minus one-half of its top pairing, the Nashville Predators’ defense held firm for more than two periods Tuesday. Minus its highest-scoring forward, though, the offense never got going.
The result was a 4-0 loss  to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus.
The Predators, who played without defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Sergei Kostitsyn (both were injured), have now lost three of their last four (one in a shootout) and have been shut out six times this season, twice this month.
Columbus scored all of its goals — two on the power play — in the third period, when the Predators were outshot 13-2.
Rick Nash scored the first 1:11 after the second intermission and the last with less than a minute to play. Matt Calvert and Antoine Vermette connected in between and made it 3-0 before the halfway point of the final period.
It was just the second time in 24 games an opponent scored more than twice in a period against Nashville. The last team to do so was Chicago, which got four in the third period on Jan. 16 in Chicago, a 6-3 Blackhawks’ victory.
Suter leads the team in plus-minus rating at plus-19 and shares the team lead in assists at 25. Kostitsyn leads all Nashville forwards with 34 points (16 goals, 18 assists) and is second overall to only defenseman Shea Weber.
Neither is expected to miss much time.
The highlight of the third period for Nashville came with 1:28 remaining when Jordin Tootoo got into a fight with Jarrett Boll, one of the league leaders in fighting majors. It was Tootoo’s first fight since his return from a personal leave and his first since Nov. 27.
The Predators return to action Thursday when they host Chicago, 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena.