It took five rounds of a shootout, but the Nashville Predators beat Columbus on home ice for the 13th straight time, taking a 4-3 decision. Ryan Suter led all Preds scorers with two assists, in what was a relatively wide-open affair between two teams that normally prefer to play close, tight-checking games. With the win, Nashville is now 11-3-1 in their last 15 games.
Follow after the jump for video highlights, the recap, and advanced even-strength stats...
Despite the long-running success that the Predators have enjoyed over the Blue Jackets in Nashville, Columbus always seems to put up a tough fight. Three times tonight the Preds took a one-goal lead, and each time the Blue Jackets tied the game back up.
Dave Scatchard got the initial goal off a nice feed from Kevin Klein, a great way to celebrate his return to the lineup. He buzzed around the net whenever he could tonight, notching 4 shots in just 8:03 of ice time. After Columbus defenseman Kris Russel answered back early in the second, Martin Erat continued his torrid goal-scoring pace by following up on a rebound to put the Preds up 2-1. Marty's now got 9 goals in his last 11 games, and is officially "on fire" after a lousy start over his first 17.
Just minutes later, however, Raffi Torres banked a shot from just behind the goal line off of Pekka Rinne to tie the game back up at 2-2. What followed at the end of the 2nd was truly unusual for a Predators-Blue Jackets game. As explained by Terry Crisp in his intermission breakdown, Jason Arnott pulled a fast one, faking like he was going to the bench for a line change but circling back to take a lead pass from Shea Weber. He broke in all alone and lifted a nifty backhander of the glove of Mathieu Garon to put Nashville back up 3-2 with just seconds left in the period.
Rick Nash tied the game up at 3-3 early in the 3rd, and despite a number of good chances for both teams down the stretch and during overtime, they headed to the shootout, where Garon has enjoyed some great success over the years (in 2007-8, he went 10-0 for Edmonton in the shootout).
On the other hand, Rinne ain't so bad himself, going 5-2 last year with a .792 save percentage (a typical goalie is about .670 in that situation). After four rounds, each team had scored twice, but in Round 5, Rinne stuffed Antoine Vermette, leaving Steve Sullivan the opportunity to win the game, which he did with a nice forehand move to score the final goal.
The Preds move on now to Saturday night against Detroit, which is 4-5-1 in their last 10 and reeling from a number of injuries to key players.
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As to the advanced stats, the top line was definitely productive tonight for the Preds, while the Tootoo-Goc-Dumont line struggled a bit. Despite limited ice time, the Jones-Scatchard-Hornqvist trio acquitted themselves well, while perhaps the best effort overall goes to the defense duo of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein (yes, the pair that got shredded so much during the early weeks of the season).
All in all, I'm sure Barry Trotz will have some finger-wagging for the boys tomorrow given the number of defensive breakdowns, but it was good to see enough scoring step up to seal the win. You can't plan on winning 2-1 every night...
|Even Strength||Individual Totals||Team Totals While Player Is On Ice|
|Player||Pos||EV TOI||Shots||Shts Blkd||Missed Shts||Blocks||SOG For||SOG Ag||SOG +/-||Tot SF||Tot SA||Corsi|
|J P Dumont||R||10:41||0||0||2||0||4||8||-4||8||12||-4|