NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Columbus is determined to play the role of spoiler,
and the Blue Jackets certainly did their best to hurt the Nashville Predators'
push for their first-ever playoff berth.
Tyler Wright scored 2:03 into overtime, and the Blue Jackets beat Nashville
3-2 Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.
The Predators, in their sixth NHL season, extended their home winless skid
to five straight and missed an opportunity to move into sole possession of
seventh place in the Western Conference. Nashville blew a 2-0 lead and has not
won at home since beating the New York Rangers 2-1 on Feb. 28.
Nashville has 85 points and is tied with St. Louis, a 4-3 overtime winner
over Chicago, and idle Edmonton. St. Louis has 36 victories, Nashville 35, and
``We're in the thick of things now,'' Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said.
``We've taken in a cushion we've had the last eight, 10 games, and it's totally
Nikolai Zherdev forced overtime with his power-play goal at 14:05 of the
third, and Rick Nash scored his NHL-leading 40th goal this season and had an
assist in helping Columbus win for only the seventh time away from home.
``Every night is a playoff game for those guys, and we want to come in and
we show a lot of pride,'' Columbus coach Gerard Gallant said. ``We said we
don't want to give anybody free points, and Nashville deserves them and they
want to make the playoffs. It was a big game for us.''
Andreas Johansson had a goal and an assist for Nashville, and rookie Dan
Hamhuis had a goal.
Nashville had every chance to beat Columbus for the fifth time in the season
series finale, but the Predators went 0-for-7 on the power play. Coach Barry
Trotz said they tried to be too fancy and spent too much time passing the puck.
``I mean, shoot the thing,'' Trotz said.
Columbus had all the energy in overtime, outshooting Nashville 3-1 including
a breakaway by Zherdev that Tomas Vokoun stopped with his right pad. Vokoun
stopped Trevor Letowski's shot, but Letowski got the rebound and found Wright
skating up the slot for the goal.
``I saw Trevor after he got his rebound. He looked at me, and I knew he saw
me, and I just tried to get it away as quick as I could. It was a great pass by
him,'' he said.
Zherdev tied it with his 12th this season, and Columbus goalie Marc Denis
should have gotten an assist.
Denis skated out to the left circle to knock the puck away from Sullivan on
a short-handed breakaway. Sullivan tried to pass to a teammate, but the Blue
Jackets intercepted. Nash fed the puck to Zherdev for the tying goal.
Still, Nashville had two more power plays to try to pull out the victory but
couldn't get past Denis, who stopped 35 shots.
Hamhuis, a healthy scratch in Thursday night's 4-2 victory over the Rangers,
put Nashville up 1-0 with his seventh goal midway through the second. He scored
on a one-timer under Denis' right leg after Johansson found him with a
cross-ice pass at the front edge of the left circle.
Johansson gave Nashville a 2-0 lead at 15:51 of the period when he scored
his 12th by putting back a rebound of Scott Walker's shot from in front of the
But Nash made it 2-1 as he scored from the slot off a pass from Andrew
Cassels at 18:44 of the second. He became the first teenager with 40 goals in a
season since Jimmy Carson had 55 goals in 1987-88.