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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

lot."

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

29.

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.

"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

right.

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."

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