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Preds get point but Blue Jackets finally triumph in Music City…

NSH DAL recap pic

The Columbus Blue Jackets hadn’t registered points in back-to-back games all season. The Nashville Predators haven’t lost at home to Columbus in 17 games. All signs pointed to Nashville running away with the victory.

Too bad that wasn’t the case.

In front of 16,776 at Bridgestone Arena, the Blue Jackets did something they hadn’t done since April 3, 2006: win a hockey game in Nashville.

Pekka Rinne supplied 25 saves and the Preds got to their magic number of three goals but it wasn’t enough as Columbus beat the host club 4-3 in overtime.

The good news is Nashville extended their undefeated-in-regulation streak to five games (3-0-2). The bad news is that Columbus is a team the Predators absolutely must beat. They’re the worst team in the league, they’ll almost certainly be picking first in the 2012 NHL Draft and they hadn’t won a single game on the road yet this season. The Predators, by contrast, have the second best record in the Central, have the best defensive pairing in the league and have all their stars healthy.

“We really built off the other night in Boston,” Columbus Head Coach Scott Arniel said. “We did a lot of good things. We really pressured the Predators in their end of the rink and we got some rewarded with some goals.”

The home team got things started with David Legwand firing a shot from the point. Colin Wilson tallied on the power play as he cleaned up the garbage in front of Curtis Sanford to give his team a 1-0 lead headed into the first intermission.

In the second period, Jeff Carter wristed a laser past Rinne for not only the tying goal but also his first in a Columbus sweater.

While rookie forward Ryan Johansen was sitting in timeout thinking about his hooking infraction, Shea Weber unloaded one of his patented slapshots on the Columbus goal. Sanford was able to turn away the initial shot but was not as fortunate when Mike Fisher banged home the rebound to make it 2-1, Nashville.

Columbus would use a power play of their own to even the score. Less than 2:00 after Nashville took the lead, the Blue Jackets tied it back up when Rinne poorly handled a routine wrist shot. Vinny Prospal, who was cutting across the crease, flipped it up and over Rinne’s glove for the score.

As Amanda DiPaolo of insidesmashville.com noticed, this was the first time you saw raw emotion from the Blue Jackets. While Prospal lay on the ice, celebrating his goal, his screams of excitement could be heard throughout the building. It was almost as if Columbus started to believe in themselves.

Not doing anything to quell that belief, Ryan Suter took a roughing penalty to start the final frame. Columbus immediately cashed in with their second power play goal of the night, this one coming off of the stick of RJ Umberger. James Wisniewski wristed a shot from the point in an attempt to start the play. The puck was deflected on it’s way toward the net, which handcuffed Rinne. Umberger banged home the loose rebound for the 3-2 lead.

“This is the kind of game where we came together as a family,” Wisniewski said. “We realized not to get down on ourselves and keep playing with resiliency and being tenacious throughout the whole 63 minutes.”

Nashville eventually answered to force overtime. Nick Spaling scored his second of the season on, you guessed it, a Weber blast. The former Kitchener Ranger slid the rebound past Sanford to tie the game at three.

In the extra session, however, the Jackets won an offensive zone face-off and Wisniewski blasted one from the point that soared past Rinne for the winner.

“That was obviously a nail biter but, man, what a relief when that goal went in,” Arniel said, improving to 4-13-2 on the year.

The Predators will conclude their five game home stand against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. These are not the Oilers of yesteryear, however. Edmonton spent a lot of the season atop the Western Conference and is currently slaughtering the Central Division leading Chicago Blackhawks tonight, 8-2 (at time of publishing).

Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.

LEFTOVER THOUGHTS:
* Blake Geoffrion was a healthy scratch for the Preds.
* In the opening 1:02 of the contest, we had a middleweight fight and a heavyweight fight. Off the opening face-off, Jordin Tootoo dropped the gloves with Derek Dorsett and then, once play started again, Brian McGrattan engaged in extracurriculars with Jared Boll.
* Speaking of Dorsett, in the opening 6:35, he racked up 17 penalty minutes thanks to the fighting major and then a game-misconduct when he tried to fight Jack Hillen. He did all that on just 0:33 of ice time in the first.
* Weber has been on the ice for the last 12 Preds goals.
* When Nashville scores three goals they’re now 9-1-2 on the year.
* Each team converted on two power plays. Columbus had eight man advantage opportunities while Nashville had four.
* With a win tonight, the Predators would have pulled within a single win of the Central Division leading Chicago Blackhawks. Instead, they’re three points away.
* Three bus loads of Columbus fans made the trip down to 501 Broadway for the game (and weekend). While we’re not thrilled it was at our expense, we hope they have a great time in our great city.

THE THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1) James Wisniewski (CMB)
2) Nick Spaling (NSH)
3) Shea Weber (NSH)

ALL QUOTES courtesy of the Columbus Blue Jackets media relations.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // section303.com