The Nashville Predators continued their winning ways tonight, taking their fifth game in a row, this one against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was an incredible goaltending battle, with each team having sublime scoring chance after scoring chance only to be denied. In the end, though, Nashville proved a smidge better as rookie defenseman Cody Franson struck in the extra frame.
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The first period saw the Blue Jackets outplay Nashville by a significant margin. They had twice as many shots, and it was purely on the merits of Pekka Rinne that the Predators escaped unscathed. Nashville had the lone power play of the period, with Jared Boll roughly boarding Jordin Tootoo. The Predators were unable to generate a single shot.
The second period didn't start well, either. The Preds picked up an interference penalty, then a too many men and found themselves two men down. At the end of the crucial five-on-three, Ryan Suter exited the box and found himself on a breakaway, and he hit the post even though he was pushed by Fedor Tyutin.
The Predators later got a man-advantage, though, with Mike Commodore in the box for slashing. This time they were able to create havoc in front of Steve Mason, but he was up to the task and then some. First he denied Shea Weber with a pad stop, then robbed Colin Wilson and Steve Sullivan in succession on the doorstep. This sequence of events was summed up well by @CellBlock303: "Apparently God is in net for the CBJ. Wow."
The teams traded chances for much of the third period, but as was the story throughout the night, both goaltenders were standing on their respective heads. Jason Arnott was hit with a high stick late in the period, was taken to the dressing room, and did not return.
In overtime, the Predators looked weak for much of the frame - at one point giving up a breakaway to Mike Commodore, whose shot Rinne nonchalantly gloved right out of the air. Soon after, though, our hero struck. Cody Franson took a pass from Martin Erat and fired a shot from the point that went in off of Steve Mason's arm, and that was that. Rinne picked up his third shutout in five games, and the Predators extended their win streak to five. Rinne's play has been nothing short of spectacular the last two weeks, and it would shock no one if he earned consecutive NHL "star" honors.