Predators Squeak Past Blue Jackets

The Nashville Predators played a complete 65 minute game and took the Columbus Blue Jackets to the shootout where Steve Sullivan had the lone goal in the 4-3 Preds victory.

Sullivan’s game deciding shootout goal came when he faked Columbus goalie Steve Mason completely to his right, out of the blue ice, and cut back to the other side for a shot at an empty net. In the postgame television interview, he said it wasn’t what he had planned but he seemed elated with the result.

During regulation, the Predators had goals from Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Kevin Klein. Marty Erat assisted on Wilson’s and Kostitsyn’s goal for a two point night.

Antoine Vermette was the player of the game for Columbus, scoring two goals and assisting on Kris Russel’s goal for a solid three point performance.

Pekka Rinne continued his solid play, stopping 28 of 31 Columbus shots and all three attempts in the shootout. Steve Mason handled 26 of 29 shots from the Preds.

The Predators penalty kill continued to be outstanding, with a perfect four for four effort. The unit set a new franchise record for going eight games without allowing a power play goal and have 28 kills in a row.

The power play unit was back to its usual level of mediocrity going o-5 after picking up two goals on Tuesday night.

The first period started off with several shaky moments including one sequence where Klein tipped the puck toward the Preds open net and was saved by the post. Wilson scored the games first goal on a wrister from in front of the Jackets net at 17:02 to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. Cal O’Reilly had the primary assist while Erat had the secondary assist.

In the first period, the Predators had a pair of power play opportunities and had a couple of shots while the Jackets had one man advantage with one shot.

At 7:11 in the second stanza, the Jackets tied the game 1-1 when Vermette picked up a rebound off of a Jan Hejda shot and put it past Rinne for the tally. It was a four on four goal with Jered Smithson and Anton Stralman serving time in the penalty box. With the secondary assist, R.J. Umberger broke the Columbus record for points in consecutive games with ten.

The Predators went ahead at 16:29 when Erat took a pass from Marcel Goc and fired it to the front of the net where Kostitsyn redirected the puck into the net past Mason for his third goal of the season.

The second period ended with the Predators being called for too many men on the ice so Columbus started the third period with the man advantage. As the penalty expired, at 2:01, the Predators had a poor change and a defensive collapse as Russell went into the slot unattended and put a wrister past a surprised Rinne to tie the game 2-2.

Erat came close to putting the Preds back in front when he hit the cross bar at 8:42 but Columbus took the lead at 10:01 when Rick Nash crashed the Predators net on a shot that Rinne made a leg save on but the rebound went off Wilson’s skate straight to Vermette who had an open shot at the net.

The Preds then started peppering the net and Klein took a long shot from the blue line at 11:38 that Mason never saw due to the traffic in front of the net to tie the game at 3-3. The goal was unassisted.

Ryan Suter was the key man for the Predators in overtime making several great defensive plays.

In the shootout, Cal O’Reilly and Jakub Voracek, missed in the first round before Sullivan scored in the top of the second. Nash, Erat and Vermette all missed to conclude the skills competition and give the Preds the extra point.

Nashville has now won two in a row and is 6-3-2 in their last eleven games. After the game, they headed home to prepare to play Carolina at the Bridgestone Arena Saturday night at 7 p.m. The loss was Columbus’ third in a row.

Notes: Per Josh Cooper, Chet Pickard was visiting from Cincinnati to meet with Mitch Korn and the coaches… Nick Spaling drew penalties twice while Columbus was on the power play to negate their man advantage… Suter may have had his best shift of the year taking out Nash and Russel on an early shift in overtime. In his next OT shift he slowed a three on one rush long enough for the other three Preds to get down ice… Francis Bouillon and Kevin Klein were +3 for the game while Ryan Suter and Shea Weber were minus-3.

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