NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Ville Koistinen scored the only shootout goal to give the Nashville Predators a 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Jason Arnott, back in the Predators' lineup after an 11-game absence because of a concussion, had two goals and an assist to help Nashville match Anaheim and St. Louis with 86 points in the Western Conference playoff chase. The Blue Jackets are sixth, three points ahead of Nashville, Anaheim and St. Louis.
Shea Weber and Radek Bonk also scored for Nashville. Rick Nash scored twice, and Jiri Novotny and Jason Williams added goals for Columbus.
Columbus opened the scoring at 6:04 of the first period when Nash put a rebound past goalie Pekka Rinne from close range.
Weber tied it little over 3 minutes later when he blasted a shot from just inside the blue line, but Novotny put Columbus back on top 31 seconds later.
Nash scored his second goal of the game at 5:46 of the second period, beating Rinne off a rebound on a power play.
Arnott pulled the Predators within one at 11:14 of the second period. He caught the puck off a high rebound, threw it to the ice and backhanded it off of a Columbus player into the net past Steve Mason.
With 3:44 left in the second period, Arnott tied it at 3, scoring on a power play. Dan Hamhuis took a shot from long distance from the right point that was deflected by Bonk. Arnott skated in low in the slot and shot the loose puck into the left side of the net to beat Mason, who was out of position to the right.
Bonk put the Predators in front 4-3 with 9:48 left in regulation. He was stationed in front of the crease and directed a pass from Jerred Smithson into the net.
Williams tied it with 4:17 left in the third period, catching Rinne out of position with a shot from low to the left side of the net.
Notes: Columbus was without Rostislav Klesla. He's expected to miss at least one more game because of an oblique injury. ... The Predators have an 11-game unbeaten string at home against Columbus.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On playing with a sense of urgency…
We talked about that before the game and we knew that they were going to come out really strong. Columbus has had four days off, they haven’t played since we played them last. The got Chimera back and they had a full line up.
On the general play of the game…
We played last night and I thought we played a decent first period. There were some strange goals, and we weren’t quite as good in the first as we needed to be. We battled away and the second goal was huge for us. It was Arnott in the blue paint whacking at a puck and went in the net and changed the momentum there.
On gaining momentum after Arnott’s two goals…
We just stayed with it and you could hear the guys on the bench saying “Let’s get them on their heels, keep going and keep pushing” and we kept doing that. I thought we had an excellent third period, and I thought that we might be a little bit spent after the second period because we played last night. The guys were really determined during the third and I thought that we played an absolutely outstanding third period. We were all over them, got it to a point where the fourth goal was huge with Tootoo getting in there with Bonk and they scored the goal. Then they scored on the one chance they had in the third period and it was unfortunate that we had to go into overtime and give them a point.
On the importance of a win tonight…
As much as we are trying to catch Columbus, we are trying to catch St. Louis first and we accomplished that tonight. We had a big effort from everyone on the bench. In the shootout, I thought that Pekka was outstanding. Pekka made the call to let Columbus shoot first and he said that he would stop them. It was a great goal by Koistinen.
On choosing Koistinen for the third shooter…
He’s been very good in the American League where he has played and he’s been good in the shootouts. He’s a really skilled guy. I thought that he went in today and played very well. You always talk about being ready for that moment when you might have to contribute and it’s been a tough year for Koistinen.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
His overall take of the game…
It was an up-and-down game, and we played really well. They had some unlucky goals and then it became a frustrating game. It doesn’t matter how it turned out, we had a great game from start to finish. It is good to see a well fought game turn out with a win.
On the shootout…
I always tell Coach Trotz that I want to start out defending in the shootout. I always want the other team to take that first shot if I get to choose. I try and trust myself to get a save so our guy can go to the other end and score, so he doesn’t have to feel the pressure. It was a huge stress reliever to save the three shots.
On the next few games…
This is really going to come down to the wire. It is such an exciting time, but it is going to take everything we have to finish this regular season strong. This is why we play hockey, this is where everything is at stake and this is where everything counts. This is the best time in my life.
Forward Joel Ward
On being a leader out on the ice…
We aren’t depending on one or two guys, we know our top line. We know who has it one night and who doesn’t have it another night. Everyone chips in anyway that they can. We all work together as a team and as the season goes on we learn to work well off one another.