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game recap

Craig Smith sparks Predators to win

Forward scores two goals, Pekka Rinne makes 30 saves against Blue Jackets

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

Smith pots Ekholm's feed

CBJ@NSH: Smith goes short side for second goal

Craig Smith receives a pass from Mattias Ekholm and unleashes a wrist shot that beats Sergei Bobrovsky on the short side for his second goal

  • 00:57 •

NASHVILLE -- Craig Smith scored two goals, and the Nashville Predators defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday.  

The Predators are 7-1-1 in their past nine games. 

"I think we've turned the corner here a little bit," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne said. "I feel like throughout the season we've been finding consistency, and as of late I feel like with the way we've been playing, even the losses, I feel like we've been pretty happy with our games. That's obviously a big thing for us, just finding the game at the right time of the season." 

Smith gave the Predators a 3-1 lead at 6:03 of the third period. Defenseman Mattias Ekholm went behind the net for a wraparound attempt, and Smith shot the rebound past Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

 

WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Predators highlights 

 

"Obviously we're at home here but these are really important games," Smith said. "We took care of business." 

It was the last game for each team prior to the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.  

Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski made it 3-2 at 9:12 on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle. It was his eighth goal.

Smith made it 4-2 at 11:18 on a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle for his ninth goal of the season.

Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray made it 4-3 at 17:09 on a wrist shot that beat Rinne for his first goal. Rinne had 30 saves.

Video: CBJ@NSH: Murray flicks home goal from tough angle

"Every team has good players and they're going to have their pushes," Murray said. "We just have to eliminate theirs the best that we can and eliminate chances. If we can give them zone time and cut down on chances, then they really get nothing." 

Brandon Saad gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead at 9:25 of the first period. It was his 16th goal.

Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok tied it 1-1 at 5:41 of the second period on the power play. Forward Colin Wilson made a backhand pass to Jarnkrok, who beat Bobrovsky for his seventh goal.  

Harry Zolnierczyk gave the Predators a 2-1 lead at 9:01 on a backhand shot from in front of the net. Forward Colton Sissons got the puck to the net, and Zolnierczyk scored his first goal of the season.

Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella missed the game due to a family emergency, and he will not coach in the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles on Sunday.

 
Goal of the game

Smith's second goal came on a give-and-go from Ekholm. He beat Bobrovsky on the glove side.

Video: CBJ@NSH: Smith goes short side for second goal

 
Save of the game

Rinne made a save on Saad with 1:45 remaining on a shot from the corner. Saad got the puck after Rinne played it behind the net, and Rinne got back to the crease just in time. 

 

Unsung performance of the game

Predators defenseman P.K. Subban drew a tripping penalty in the offensive zone that led to Jarnkrok's goal. 

 

Highlight of the game

Wilson made a backhand pass from the boards around Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson to set up Jarnkrok's goal. Jarnkrok was open in the slot because Wilson drew Johnson to the corner. 

Video: CBJ@NSH: Jarnkrok buries Wilson's slick feed for PPG

 

They said it

"I think our first periods have been pretty good and our second [periods] have just been awful. We're going to have to do something to fix that." -- Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski 

 

"They were awesome. From start to finish, that line with Sissons, [Cody McLeod] and Zolnierczyk, they just brought energy. They moved forward, they put the puck in the offensive zone, they banged things around, they banged bodies, they went to the crease. [Zolnierczyk] got one, [McLeod] could've had one. They just bring good energy, good physicality, and they're bringing some good offense." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette on the fourth line

 

Need to know

Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard returned after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. He played 16:00 and had one shot on goal. … Predators forward Ryan Johansen played in his 400th NHL game. 

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: At the New York Rangers on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG2, NHL.TV)

Predators: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; FS-TN, ROOT, NHL.TV)

Video: Smith scores twice to lead Preds past Blue Jackets

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