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Martin Erat scores only goal of shootout as Predators edge Devils 4-3

Mason stopped all three New Jersey attempts in the shootout and Martin Erat scored the only goal to lead the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night. "I've only been involved in three shootouts, two last year, and I haven't allowed a goal in yet," Mason said after leading the Predators to their fourth straight win. "I haven't had that many. It's a good thing to have, but eventually the time will come where it will end."

Mason now has stopped eight consecutive shots in the shootouts, and his three on Thursday helped Nashville win a game in which it blew a two-goal lead in the final 2:07 of regulation. The Predators completed a sweep of the New York-metropolitan area teams this week.

"Chris was great for us," Paul Kariya said. "He made huge saves for us. I feel bad we didn't bear down at the end. It should have been locked down."

Kariya set up first-period power-play goals by Jason Arnott and Erat and Scott Nichol tallied short-handed in the second for Nashville, which had eight shots on goals over the final two periods and the overtime.

Brian Gionta scored twice, including the tying goal with 11.6 seconds to go in regulation. Scott Gomez had the other goal for the Devils.

Mason finished with 30 saves filling in for Tomas Vokoun. He stopped Zach Parise, Gionta and Patrik Elias in the shootout.

"I got a little fortunate, the one by Parise hit the outside of the post," Mason said. "I was just seeing it tonight."

Erat scored on the Predators' third attempt, snapping a shot over the glove of Scott Clemmensen, who had 15 saves in his first start of the year.

"He was so far back in the net I needed to shoot it there, up high," Erat said.

"It was a great shot, what can I say," Clemmensen said.

The Devils, who rallied from a three-goal third-period deficit at home earlier this season to beat Toronto 7-6 in a shootout, staged another comeback against the Predators, who beat the Islanders on Monday and the Rangers on Wednesday.

Gomez started the rally by lifting the rebound of a Gionta shot over Mason's shoulder.

Gionta, who had all three third-period goals in the win over Toronto, scored his sixth of the season and second of the game from the right faceoff circle in the closing seconds.

"We'd like to avoid being in the position where we have to do that," Clemmensen said, "but it's comforting to know if we do get in that situation, we don't give up and we have a chance because we have done it before."

Kariya's assists were sandwiched around Gionta's first goal.

Arnott was the first beneficiary of Kariya's passing, converting from right in front at 2:10 on the first shot that Clemmensen faced this season.

Mason also was beaten on the Devils' first shot, a power-play goal by Gionta after nice passes by Gomez and Elias.

Erat gave the Predators a 2-1 lead after taking a Kariya pass and scoring from between the circles on a shot that seemed to hit off Devils defenceman Paul Martin.

Notes: Devils rookie C Travis Zajac missed the third period because of soreness. ... RW Steve Sullivan, who was leading the Predators with seven points, sat out with back spasms. ... The Devils scored on their first power play, ending a streak of 11 straight kills by the Predators. ... Kimmo Timonen had an assist in his 500th game with Nashville. ... This was the only regular-season game between the teams this season.


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