NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Two weeks after rallying in the final two minutes at Columbus before winning in overtime, the Nashville Predators needed more late heroics against the Blue Jackets.
Martin Erat scored with 8.4 seconds remaining to give the Predators a 6-5 comeback victory over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Erat was streaking through the neutral zone as he took a pass from Ryan Suter, split two defenders before sliding a backhand between the legs of stunned Blue Jackets goalie Curtis Sanford.
“I would say that we played great the first ten or 12 minutes and after that we took bad penalties,” Erat said. “In the second period, we started playing a sloppy game. After we got a little offensive pressure in their zone, and that’s when they made the turnovers and we capitalized on them.”
Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Roman Josi and David Legwand also scored for Nashville, which has won six of its last seven.
The Predators trailed 5-2 about eight minutes into the second period before scoring the game’s last four goals. Spaling and Josi’s goals pulled the Predators within one less than six minutes later, and Legwand’s power-play score with 3:46 to go in the third tied it.
On the tying goal, Colin Wilson retrieved the rebound of Shea Weber’s shot from the left point. From behind the Columbus net, Wilson found Legwand on the right side, where he beat Sanford for his ninth goal of the season.
“I just tried to get my stick open for Colin,” Legwand said. “He made a good pass there and I was able to get it in. It is a good thing for us to get the ‘W’ and to get the points.”
Jeff Carter had a hat trick in the first period and Ryan Johansen had two power-play goals for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four straight.
Two weeks ago in Ohio, Nashville rallied from two goals down with less than two minutes remaining in the third and ended up defeating the Blue Jackets 4-3 in overtime.
Fisher got the Predators on the scoreboard first, with a power-play score at 12:29 of the opening period.
Carter’s third career hat trick came in the span of 3:18 of the first period, setting a Columbus franchise record for fastest three goals by one player. Geoff Sanderson scored three goals in the span of 9:43 on March 29, 2003, at Calgary.
Two of Carter’s goals came during a five-minute power play. At 14:26 of the first, Nashville’s Brian McGrattan was assessed a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct after hitting Jared Boll near the Nashville bench. Boll stayed on the ice for a while after the hit and then went back to the locker room, but he returned to the game in the second period.
Johansen extended the Blue Jackets’ lead to 4-1 at 15:30 of the first.
“We play a great first two periods for so many games, and in the third periods, we just collapse or whatever it is,” Johansen said. “We practice all week working on our third periods and things we should do a little smarter, and to get a loss again in the third period like that is mentally tough.”
The Blue Jackets came in ranked 26th in the NHL on the power play, but they were 4 for 6 with the man-advantage against Nashville.
“I’ve seen this so many times in the past where something comes too easy for a team, all of a sudden they’ve got a big lead,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “All you have to do is chip away because there was a ton of time left. We did that.”
After Hornqvist and Johansen traded goals early in the second period, Spaling pulled the Predators to 5-3 at 8:53 and Josi made it a one-goal game with 6:19 to go in the period.
“We get the fifth one and we still didn’t put them away,” Sanford said. “It’s definitely disappointing. It’s definitely frustrating. We just have to find a way to stop killing ourselves here.”
Pekka Rinne allowed all five goals Columbus goals, but hung on for his 16th win of the season.
NOTES: Nashville D Kevin Klein missed his second consecutive game with the flu. … Weber extended his point scoring streak to four games. … Five of Carter’s 10 goals this season have come against Nashville. … The Blue Jackets and Predators have already played four of the six games in their season series.