COLUMBUS, Ohio – Through more than a thousand games as head coach of the Nashville Predators, Barry Trotz has learned to be patient.
Like so many times before, that patience was rewarded.
Sergei Kostitsyn’s redirect with 12.1 seconds left forced overtime, and Colin Wilson’s one-timer 1:45 into the extra period gave the Predators a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
The Predators twice trailed by two goals until Patric Hornqvist scored with 1:36 left in the third period, setting up the final frantic minute in regulation.
“Today we found a way to get it done,” Trotz said. “That’s more like the Predators I know.”
Wilson converted on a 2-on-1 break, netting a nifty pass from Martin Erat, who also set up Kostitsyn’s tying goal.
“Marty likes to pass on those 2-on-1s,” Wilson said. “I just want to get open. I opened up for him real quick, and he put it right in my wheelhouse. I let a quick shot go.”
And just like that a certain defeat turned into two points.
“We just kind of hung around,” captain Shea Weber said. “We just got life.”
Mike Fisher added a goal for the Predators, who had lost two in a row.
The game turned when the Predators drew to 3-2. Hornqvist took two tries to find the net on a rebound of a Weber blast.
“The last two minutes, we were really pushing hard,” Hornqvist said.
Weber then levelled Dorsett in open ice with 1:06 left at the same time the Blue Jackets’ Samuel Pahlsson was called for a crosscheck. The Predators pulled goalie Pekka Rinne for an extra attacker and turned up the heat. They controlled the puck the rest of the way.
“We allowed Weber to get the shot away on the first one,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “(Then) a (bad) makeup call by the referee that was horrendous on Sammy Pahlsson who’s never been in a fight in his life. And he calls that call there. In a 6-on-4 you know they’re going to be teeing off and making their plays.”
Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford kicked aside a loose puck in the crease once. But after Nashville won a faceoff in the offensive zone late in regulation, Erat tossed the puck toward Kostitsyn in the high slot and he redirected it past Sanford to tie it and disappoint a crowd of 13,852.
“We had chances to clear pucks 200 feet, and we didn’t do it,” Arniel said. “Once they tied it up, we were pretty rattled after that.”
In overtime, the Predators beat a defenceman back and had an unobstructed break. Erat waited until the defenceman committed before sliding the puck to Wilson for the winner.
“Marty Erat was real good,” Trotz said. “He gave it over to Willie, and he buried it.”
It was another bit of pain for the Blue Jackets, who had slowly been climbing out of an awful 2-12-1 start to go 6-4-3 in their last 13 games. But they were stunned by the late turnaround.
Jeff Carter, Antoine Vermette and Derek Dorsett scored for Columbus, which never trailed in regulation and seemed in control until the late stages.
Notes: The home team had won 19 of 23 meetings going into this season, but the road team has been victorious in all three meetings this season. … Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo sat out the second of a two-game suspension for charging Buffalo G Ryan Miller. … Columbus came in 4-1-0 when leading after a period and 6-2-0 when on top through two.