Alexander Radulov scored the only shootout goal and Chris Mason stopped Rick Nash on the final shot of the tiebreaker, lifting the Predators to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday night.
Paul Kariya, J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler scored in regulation for Nashville, which won despite blowing a two-goal lead.
“The third period, they just came out and were relentless,” said Mason, who finished with 31 saves for his 22nd victory. “They were all over us. We were lucky enough to take it to a shootout and get the win.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz sensed a breakdown was possible.
“I wasn’t really happy about the third period,” he said of his team that was outshot 16-7 in the frame and 5-0 in overtime. “I knew this would be a really mentally tough game, because (Saturday) was quite emotional against Detroit, and it was a hard game.”
After beating the rival Red Wings in overtime to take the Central Division lead, Nashville still found a way to end a season-high, four-game road losing streak and improve to 7-0 against the Blue Jackets this season.
Fredrik Modin and Ron Hainsey each had a goal and an assist, and Jody Shelley tallied for Columbus, which snapped a three-game losing streak Saturday with a come-from-behind victory that was its first at Madison Square Garden. David Vyborny added two assists for the Blue Jackets, who have dropped nine of 12.
“We gathered ourselves for the third period and did a good job … created a number of scoring changes,” Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock said. “I thought we deserved a better fate.”
The Predators carried a 3-1 lead into the third period and seemed to be in control, but tough-guy Shelley smacked in his own rebound at 4:30 for his first goal in 73 games – dating to March 15, 2006.
That energized the home crowd and the Blue Jackets, who responded six minutes later to make it 3-3 on Hainsey’s blast from the slot through traffic.
“Our goalie was going to cover it up and one of our defenceman threw it out to the point,” Trotz said.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead during the second of Shelley’s two first-period penalties. Martin Erat poked a loose rebound near the crease to Kariya for an easy jam score at 6:54. The goal gave Kariya his eighth 20-goal campaign in 12 seasons.
Columbus tied it on a power play carried over from the first period after a botched stick exchange by Nashville.
After Mason lost his stick on a save, Kimmo Timonen gave his to the goalie. Modin then broke past Timonen and tipped the puck in at 1:04 for his 14th.
Nashville, which has the NHL’s third-best penalty-killing unit, has allowed six man-advantage goals in three games.
“We’re disappointed because it was 1-1 and we felt we had taken over the game and then boom, boom and it’s 3-1,” Hitchcock said.
The Predators responded with two goals in 1:52.
Radulov stole the puck from defenceman Aaron Johnson on a forecheck in the corner. He then slid a centring pass on his knees to Dumont, who redirected the puck past Fredrik Norrena at 2:19 to make it 2-1. The goal was Dumont’s 16th and fourth in five games.
On the next goal at 4:11, David Legwand blocked Johnson’s clearing attempt from the zone. He fired a shot that Fiddler deflected. Fiddler picked up his rebound and scored with a backhand.
“We just got away from our tendencies,” Fiddler said. “We can’t let that happen down the stretch. We’ve got to get into the mode where we get the lead and keep it.”
Notes: Hitchcock coached his 800th NHL game. He is 427-268-105. … Predators C Peter Forsberg was held pointless for the fourth time in five games since being acquired from Philadelphia on Feb. 15. … Blue Jackets C Dan Fritsche left in the second period with a cut wrist and didn’t return. … Injured forwards Steve Sullivan and Scott Hartnell sat out for Nashville due to injuries.