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game recap

Blue Jackets top Predators, keep pace for second wild card in East

Atkinson scores twice against Nashville, which remains tied for lead in Central

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

Atkinson scores to tie club mark

CBJ@NSH: Atkinson buries rebound to match club record

Cam Atkinson slams home a rebound to match the Blue Jackets record for the most goals in a season with 41

  • 00:57 •

NASHVILLE -- The Columbus Blue Jackets remained tied for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference with a 5-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

The Blue Jackets (44-30-4) are tied in points with the Montreal Canadiens but have played one fewer game. They are each one point behind the Carolina Hurricanes, who hold the first wild card.

"I just think we're clicking," Columbus defenseman Seth Jones said. "I think we're all aware of the identity that we have to play with. All four lines are playing great hockey, controlling the tempo, controlling the pace of play, which is nice. You see our [defensive] zone, we're aggressive and we're getting the puck out quick, which allows us to transition to offense a lot quicker."

 

[WATCH: All Blue Jackets vs. Predators highlights]

 

The Predators (44-29-6) are tied with the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division but have played one more game. The Jets lost 3-1 to the Canadiens on Saturday. 

"I thought that they were the faster team," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "There's no question. I think when you're chasing the game, too, it's easier to play the game when you're ahead. You can get the puck, get it behind the defense, send in forecheckers and just kill zone time and not have to worry about scoring goals. I don't think we were as sharp as we were [in a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday] with our game."

Cam Atkinson scored two goals to tie the Blue Jackets single-season record, and Artemi Panarin had four assists to break the record for points he set last season for Columbus, which has won four in a row. Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves.

Video: CBJ@NSH: Atkinson snipes shot by Saros for 40th goal

Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored, and Juuse Saros made 27 saves for Nashville.

Atkinson gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead 50 seconds into the first period on a shot from the right face-off circle. He took a pass from Panarin on the rush and scored his 40th goal, the first time he has reached 40 in his NHL career.

"[Panarin] led the charge, for sure, and we're going to need him to do that," Atkinson said. "That's what he brings and it's fun to watch, and especially fun to play with when he's making those sorts of plays."

Arvidsson tied the game 1-1 at 8:50 on a shorthanded breakaway. His 33rd goal tied Forsberg and Jason Arnott for the most goals in a season in Predators history.

Video: CBJ@NSH: Arvidsson nets SHG, ties Predators record

David Savard gave Columbus a 2-1 lead at 15:58 on a shot from the slot.

Oliver Bjorkstrand extended the lead to 3-1 at 19:57. Panarin deked around Predators forward Colton Sissons and found Bjorkstrand on the rush for his 20th goal. It is Bjorkstrand's first 20-goal season in the NHL. 

Video: CBJ@NSH: Bjorkstrand scores after Bobrovsky save

"I think we're playing looser offensively right now," Blue Jackets forward Matt Duchene said. "The monkey is off the back, the piano, whatever you want to call it. We want to keep this good thing going. Everyone is chipping in, which is great. We want that to continue."

Forsberg cut it to 3-2 at 12:14 of the second period on a rebound for his 27th goal, but Boone Jenner made it 4-2 at 13:28 on a breakaway.

Atkinson gave Columbus a 5-2 lead with his 41st goal on a rebound on the rush at 15:46. He tied Rick Nash, who scored 41 goals for the Blue Jackets in 2003-04. 

 

They said it

"Jenner's is a huge goal. We get scored on. We don't want the puck in the neutral zone, and they end up coming back down and they score. To answer right away there, it just gets the momentum right back on our side. That's a good team we're playing. They can ramp it up when they get going. The fourth goal was the most important goal." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella

"Just in general, the whole second period, they were the better team. They kept coming back at us. We couldn't get any [offensive] zone time. We just played defense almost the whole period, and I think that's what hurt us the most." -- Predators defenseman Roman Josi

 

Need to know

Panarin's four assists gave him 56 for the season and 83 points, both NHL career highs. He had 55 assists and 82 points last season. … The Blue Jackets have outscored their opponents 20-4 in their four-game winning streak. … Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro made his NHL debut. He had three shots on goal and blocked three shots in 16:12.

 

What's next

Blue Jackets: At the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; TVAS, MSG-B, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Predators: At the Sabres on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, FS-TN, NHL.TV)

Video: Atkinson, Jackets top Preds for fourth straight win

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