Predators still alive with win over Blue Jackets

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (AP) — Jason Arnott wasn’t sure he wanted
to make his comeback from a concussion this weekend. His wife
was even more uncertain.

But after watching the Nashville Predators fall in Chicago on
Friday night, Arnott knew he had to be back on the ice Saturday
night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“I was looking at the faces of the guys on the team and they
looked pretty tired,” Arnott said. “They have been through a

So Arnott decided that he would play if he felt good after the
morning skate.

“I was pretty determined to play,” Arnott said. “I talked it
over with my wife and she kind of hinted against it. But I
wanted to get back and help the team as much as I can.”

Arnott scored two goals, one on the power play, and added an
assist in the Predators’ 5-4 shootout win over Columbus. Despite
his lengthy absence, Arnott leads the Predators in goals with

Ville Koistinen scored the only goal in the shootout to give the
Predators the win.

Nashville is tied with 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.

Arnott, the team captain, found himself in familiar territory
playing on a line between J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan. Arnott
may have hesitated about returning to the ice, but once the game
started he was back battling for position in front of the net.

“It’s a part of my game,” Arnott said. “I figured if I am going
to play I am going to do the things that I do well. At the
beginning of the game I kind of took it easy. As things
progressed I began going to the net more.”

Arnott was glad he made the decision, but admitted he was
troubled about it until the opening faceoff.

“I was very uncomfortable,” Arnott said. “To come back after a
concussion is tough. You definitely don’t want to put yourself
in a situation where you are going to be out for the rest of the
year, most of the summer and maybe even next year.

“But we have lost so many guys. I made the decision to come back
and try to give us a boost.”

Predators coach Barry Trotz, who has been piecing lines together
due to the injury issues that also include second-line center
David Legwand and second-line forward Martin Erat,
enthusiastically welcomed Arnott back.

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“The guys are digging in and there have been no complaints,”
Trotz said. “It was huge to have Arnott back. He gave us a big
body in the middle. You saw how many chances they created.”

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

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.

Neither team could find the net in overtime, setting up the
shootout. The Predators evened their season record at 5-5 in
shootouts. Columbus is 5-7.

Rinne made the decision for Columbus to go first.

“I always tell Coach Trotz that I want to start out defending in
the shootout,” Rinne said. “I try and trust myself to get a save
so our guy can go to the other end and score.”

Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock was disappointed in the play of his
team, despite coming away with a point.

“The point’s big but we did not play well in the second and
third periods so we will have to address that,” Hitchcock said.
“We can play better.”