COLUMBUS, Ohio – Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock had a lot of reasons to be pleased with this one.
Nikolai Zherdev scored the lone shootout goal and set up the tying goal in regulation to help Columbus end a 12-game losing streak against the Nashville Predators with a 2-1 victory Saturday night.
Pascal Leclaire stopped all three shooters in the tiebreaker and made 26 saves in regulation and overtime for the Blue Jackets, who picked up their first win over the Predators since April 3, 2006.
“In the games against Nashville, we’ve always been the first team to crack,” Hitchcock said. “We stayed with it and that’s what I was happiest about.”
Trailing in the third period, it once again was Zherdev who played the catalyst role. He scored twice in the third to help Columbus beat St. Louis 6-4 on Friday night.
“Right now, this is a lot of games in a row where he’s stepped up and made good account of himself when we’ve need him the most,” Hitchcock said of the 23-year old Russian.
Leclaire stopped Alexander Radulov, Martin Erat and J.P. Dumont in the tiebreaker.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” Leclaire said of the win. “It doesn’t really matter who it was, we need those points right now.”
Chris Mason finished with 28 saves, not including stops on Michael Peca and Rick Nash in the shootout.
“The more times you play, sooner or later (it was going to happen),” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of the loss. “Both teams played really well, played a real solid game. We had one turnover and they capitalized on it.”
Rostislav Klesla pulled Columbus even at 10:45 of the third period with a snap shot from the slot. Zherdev set up the goal with a smooth dish after a giveaway by Dan Hamhuis in his own zone.
“He (Zherdev) made a good forecheck,” Klesla said. “I was kind of following the play, hoping the puck would get passed.”
Radulov scored for Nashville, which entered with seven wins in 10 games.
Radulov took a feed from Dumont and fired a shot over Leclaire at the 18:35 mark of the second period. Zherdev just missed from close range moments earlier and Nashville countered the other way.
The Blue Jackets have won a franchise-record five straight at home.
Notes: Columbus C Sergei Fedorov missed the game because of a hip pointer. He has a five-game points streak. … Dumont had a career-best and Nashville-record six-game, goal-streak snapped. … Hamhuis flipped Jared Boll with a check early in the third period.