Ville Koistinen scored his first career NHL goal with just 1:45 left in regulation to lift the Nashville Predators to their 12th consecutive victory over the Central Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets, this time downing them 4-3 on Thursday night at the Sommet Center. The victory was number 300 for both head coach Barry Trotz and the Predators franchise.
Koistinen also pitched in two assist for his first multi-point game in the League. Chris Mason stood tall in net all night for the Preds, stopping 36-of-39 shots for his eighth career victory in nine tries against the BJs.
The fireworks started early, as Adam Foote took exception to a thunderous hit by Jordin Tootoo, picking a fight with the stocky winger that earned him a two-minute instigator penalty and 10-minute misconduct just 64 seconds into the game. Nashville didn’t score on the ensuing power play, but did use it to register the first six shots on goal.
Two more undisciplined penalties to Jared Boll and Jody Shelley gave the Predators the rare two-minute five-on-three advantage at 8:16. Nashville used all but seven seconds of the two-man advantage, but scored at 10:09. The first goal of the game came off of captain Jason Arnott’s stick when he rocketed a one timer from the left faceoff circle. D-men Marek Zidlicky and Koistinen notched the assists.
Arnott’s goal was his team-best 13th of the year. Last week’s Third Star of the Week for the entire NHL now has nine points (5g-4a) in the last six games.
Columbus got its own lengthy two-man advantage at the 13:42 mark of the first, but failed to break through on 1:44 worth of prime scoring time. The penalty fest continued 2:57 later when the Blue Jackets’ Jason Chimera was nailed with four minutes worth of penalties. The Preds didn’t convert though, ending the first period with a 13-7 shots advantage and a 1-for-5 mark on the power play.
The Blue Jackets broke through with a power play goal of their own at the 4:20 mark of the second, marking only the fourth time in the last 15 games the Nashville penalty killers have allowed a marker. The equalizer, which came off the skate of Kris Beech, was awarded after a lengthy review when it was determined Beech did not intentionally direct the puck past Mason.
Columbus continued to apply the majority of the pressure as the second slowly ticked away, quieting the crowd to a dull roar. But, it was Nashville that would score the game’s next goal, reigniting the Sommet Center crowd at 10:55. Alexander Radulov proved that good things happen when the puck is simply thrown on net, flipping an innocent backhander into traffic in front that found its way past a screened Fredrik Norrena.
Jordin Tootoo celebrates scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with teammates Marek Zidlicky and Ville Koistinen in the third period.
It was Radulov’s second goal in as many games, while Zidlicky notched his second assist of the evening on the marker. David Legwand, who provided the primary screen in front, also picked up an assist, extending his point streak to four games. He would later add a second helper on the game winner for five points (1g-4a) in the last four contests.
Columbus was awarded its second two-man advantage of at least 60 seconds at 16:26, and though it didn’t score until the Preds got one out of the box, it did eventually strike while up a man at 18:08. The goal was a heartbreaker for Mason, who initially stopped the deflected shot by David Vyborny, but then slowly had it trickle through his pads and over the goal line.
In a period where they outscored the Predators 2-1, the BJs accumulated a 16-6 shot advantage.
The intensity and tempo picked up in the third period, with Nashville leading the charge, coming in waves at the Columbus net. But it was the visitors who would play the role of opportunists, taking their first lead of the game on a fluky deflection at 14:27. A rising puck caught Mason awkward, and the rebound went directly onto the stick of Jiri Novotny, who roofed it for his sixth tally of the season.
Carrie Underwood, Kellie Pickler and Taylor Swift celebrate a Predators goal against Columbus on Dec. 27, 2007
Nashville responded quickly though, scoring less than a minute later at 15:23. Zidlicky again provided the set up, feeding Tootoo for a wicked one timer from the top of the left faceoff circle.
Not only did it give “Z” points in nine of the last 13 games (1g-10a), but it capped his first multiple point outing of 2007-08 (3a). For Tootoo, it was his seventh goal of the season, adding to a career high he set earlier this year.
The Predators continued to pour it on as the third wound down, and Koistinen picked a perfect time to score the first goal of his NHL career with just 1:45 remaining in regulation. The game-winning tally came after a frantic scramble in front that saw several Preds get hacks at playing hero. Koistinen finally did the trick, flipping his second consecutive shot into a pile in front, and into the net.
Norrena was yanked in favor of an extra attacker at the 18:46 mark, but Columbus could hardly gain entrance in the Preds’ zone, being stood up at the blue line several times.
The Blue Jackets used a 32-19 shot advantage over the final 40 minutes to outshoot Nashville 39-32.
The Predators turn around and play again at the Sommet Center on Saturday night, when they host the rival San Jose Sharks. Game time is slated for 7 p.m. CT, and tickets can still be purchased by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging on to nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com, and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office located in the arena tower.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Jed Ortmeyer, while Columbus sat Gilbert Brule, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Rick Nash… Radek Bonk has an assist in three straight games… The Predators are now 7-5-2 against the Central Division… The power play unit has converted seven of the 32 opportunities the last six games…Nashville has won the last 12 games the two teams have played dating back to Nov. 15, 2006, outscoring the BJs 43-20 in that span… Dan Hamhuis played a game-high 24:02… Greg Zanon doled out a game-high four hits, while Jerred Smithson won eight-of-10 faceoffs… Nashville is 8-7-0 in one-goal games, 14-2-1 when scoring the first goal, and 4-3-1 when tied after two periods… These two teams meet again for the next time on Jan. 12 in Columbus.
Head Coach Barry Trotz On beating Columbus 12 consecutive times…
There is no secret to beating Columbus, and if there was I wouldn’t tell you.
On the injuries to Weber and Suter/Koistinen and Klein stepping in the lineup…
The defense really stepped up tonight. Ville Koistinen got his first goal tonight and it was a huge one. Kevin Klein hasn’t played in a while and stepped in and played very well. Both teams had a lot of guys out – they were missing Nash, Modin and Peca.
On the flow of the game…
They threw the kitchen sink at us, but this team stayed resilient. Mason made a big save on Boll and we got a good shift right after their third goal. Nichol, Gelinas and Tootoo’s line got us that big goal, but it was a roller coaster ride all game. We got on them, drew some penalties and were outshooting them 10-1, and then the next period they twisted it around and outshot us 16-7.
On Mason’s play…
He was really solid moving and distributing the puck. He had active legs – you go through parts of the year where your legs don’t have a lot of life in them but his do right now. He was good for us.
On Jordin Tootoo’s game…
He makes a big hit and the other team comes after him a little bit. Toots has to continue to do that though because it is what makes him special. It is his foundation – he gets you nervous if you have your head down and he will create turnovers even when he doesn’t make a big hit. Now he is bringing up some other elements of his game. He has a career-high seven goals, and he is still playing with an edge. He can’t back down, because that will take his foundation away. He has been good the last two nights. He didn’t have to go last night but he answered Wisniewski’s calling card.
Ville Koistinen On his performance tonight...
It was a good game. There were a lot of penalties, and we got a lot of chances on the power play. We scored one goal, 5-on-3. Second period, they got a lot of penalties. And then at the end of the third, I almost gave them a breakaway. But it feels good to win tonight.
On how it feels to win tonight...
It feels great to win tonight. Last night with Chicago, we lost, and right now, everybody needs a win.
Chris Mason On snapping back...
We can't continue this downward spiral. The word that we have to use is consistency. It is the end of the race and we're still right there. We've got to find our game, instead of bringing it a couple of games at a time.
On the tension...
Columbus doesn't like us, and we don't like them. They have a much better team this year, and our division is getting better. It seems that these one-goal games are just wars and we have to scratch and claw for every point.
On the third period...
I really wanted to give our guys a chance. My play has to be better from the beginning, and I kind of want to make it up to the guys. I want to keep us in the game, and give us a chance. They had a great chance. Toots had an awesome shot, and they all scrambled in front of the net. We got those goals, and those are the goals that we've been getting.
On the Sharks...
The Sharks are a great team, and they're great every year. They're always a tough team, but we have to use this and get something going here. Being this late in the year, we got to get ourselves back in and get something going now.
On the win...
We were very resilent tonight. It wasn't our best game, but both teams played tonight and it was a hard fought win. There was a few breakdowns on both sides, but two points is all that mattered. We did what it takes to win tonight.
Jordin Tootoo On a goal and two hits...
That's a part of my game. The foundation of my game is to be hard on the other teams, and it creates openings for my line mates. It's a tough game to play, but you have to be a real man to play this game.
On the win...
We're a resilent team. We came out tonight and played 60 minutes. especially when we play our divisonal teams we have to get those two points, 'cause that will get us into the playoffs. we have to go into a little bit of a streak here to get things back on track.
1 - 0 NSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NSH
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 CBJ
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 NSH
Instigator - Misconduct