NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Predators goalie Chris Mason approaches shootouts with confidence and a large dose of patience.
He stopped all three tiebreaker attempts Saturday night as Nashville beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3.
“I pride myself on shootouts,” Mason said. “I don’t want to make a move before the shooter does. I think patience is the most important thing for a goaltender. You want to stay up and stay with the shooter until they make a move or make the shot.”
Martin Erat, Nashville’s second shooter, scored what proved to be the winning goal. Alexander Radulov was the first shooter for Nashville.
It was the third shootout for Columbus and the second straight for Nashville, a 3-2 loser to Detroit on Wednesday night.
The Blue Jackets chose Jiri Novotny, Gilbert Brule and Adam Foote as their first three shooters. Foote hit the left post with the final shot. The selections for Columbus were a surprise to Mason, who expected to see Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov on the list.
“I would have almost bet my life that they would have put Nash out there,” Mason said. “They must do shootouts in practice. I’m sure they have their reasons for the players they chose.”
Radek Bonk gave the Predators a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal 9:05 into the first period. Dan Hamhuis took a shot, and Bonk took control of the long rebound in the slot and beat Fredrik Norrena low to his glove side with a backhander.
Columbus tied it at 13:37 on Curtis Glencross’ goal. Dan Fritsche stole the puck off the stick of Ville Koistinen, and tossed it into the slot. Glencross took control and scored from 15 feet out.
“We did all the things we wanted to in the first period,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We made good decisions. We came with speed. We forechecked well.”
The Predators regained the lead in the second period when Marek Zidlicky scored from high in the slot on a one-timer during a power play at 10:07.
Just 35 seconds into the third period, Nashville extended its lead to 3-1. Martin Gelinas’ shot from low in the slot bounced off Norrena’s pads. Jordin Tootoo crashed the net and pushed the rebound in to Norrena’s stick side.
Pascal Leclaire replaced Norrena in goal shortly after the third goal, but Norrena came back after spending 2:41 off the ice.
Columbus answered with a power-play goal at 14:27 when Manny Malhotra sent in a one-timer from the top edge of the right circle.
“This was a big building block for us with the big come-from-behind performance in the third period,” Malhotra said. “As far as the whole game plan went we felt that 5-on-5 we really were in control. We pressed their defence and forced them to make a lot of turnovers.”
The Blue Jackets tied it at three with 4:13 left when Nikolai Zherdev beat Mason to his glove side from a couple of feet out in front.
“Other than the first two minutes when we took some penalties we played great hockey,” Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We deserved two points. We talk about learning lessons. We have to get points from teams like Nashville.”
The teams face each other again Monday night in Columbus.
“We are going into the lion’s den,” Trotz said. “We will have to get at it again and play a better game. We were 8-0 against Columbus last season. They wanted to come in here and set the record straight that it isn’t going to happen again. They are playing with plenty of hunger. We will have to play a much better game.”
Notes: Nashville C David Legwand played in his 500th NHL game. The Predators are 8-1 in their last nine home games with Columbus. This was the third back-to-back for the Blue Jackets, who lost 4-1 at Detroit on Friday night.