COLUMBUS -- Defenseman Mattias Ekholm scored the game-winning goal for the Nashville Predators at 9:09 of the third period in a 4-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Sunday.
Nashville (28-22-8) is two points ahead of the Calgary Flames for the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Columbus (37-16-5), which lost for the first time in three games, is one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for second in the Metropolitan Division.
WATCH: All Predators vs. Blue Jackets highlights
Ryan Ellis, Kevin Fiala and Calle Jarnkrok scored, James Neal and P.K. Subban each had two assists, and Juuse Saros made 35 saves for Nashville, including 19 in the first period.
The Predators lost 5-2 at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday in their first game back from their five-day break.
"I liked the way we stayed with it and got better as the game went on, after the break and a difficult night with the travel and getting in when we did with the early start today," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Fiala dekes around Bobrovsky for superb goal
Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Zach Werenski scored a goal and had two assists, Brandon Saad and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored, Seth Jones and Alexander Wennberg each had two assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves for Columbus.
Ekholm scored on a one-timer from the slot off a pass from Filip Forsberg to give the Predators a 4-3 lead.
Werenski tied the game 3-3 at 3:41 of the third period. He received a cross-ice pass from Wennberg in the left faceoff circle and snapped a high shot past Saros.
"[Wennberg] put it right on my tape," Werenski said. "I had a lot of time. When you have that much time, you want to find a spot you want to hit, and that's what I did."
Fiala, recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League on Saturday, scored on a breakaway at 9:38 of the second period for a 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jackets got within 2-1 at 10:36 when Saad tipped Jones' shot past Saros. Jarnkrok scored at 14:40 to make it 3-1 before Bjorkstrand scored to get the Blue Jackets within one with 2:21 left in the period.
It was Bjorkstrand's second goal in three games since being recalled from Cleveland of the AHL.
Ellis, who was helped off the ice late in the third period shortly after blocking a Bjorkstrand shot with his left foot, scored at 2:24 of the first for a 1-0 Predators lead.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Ellis launches a one-timer past Bobrovsky
Goal of the game
Bobrovsky had no time to react on Ekholm's goal from between the circles. "[Forsberg] made a great play. It was just put my stick there and obviously an open net," Ekholm said.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Forsberg, Ekholm team up for go-ahead goal
Save of the game
Bobrovsky made several saves on breakaways, including a sprawling stop against Craig Smith at 10:07 of the second period.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Bobrovsky shuts down Smith on a breakaway
Unsung performance of the game
Jarnkrok was in front of the Predators net when a shot hit him in the leg in the second period. He limped to the bench before going to the dressing room, but he returned to score later in the period.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Jarnkrok pokes it in on the doorstep
Highlight of the game
Werenski, 19, showed poise beyond his years by taking his time and picking his spot on his game-tying goal.
Video: NSH@CBJ: Werenski picks the corner with great shot
They said it
"They're Blue Jackets fans. They're not Predators fans. They're not fans of mine anymore. We won in their building, and we're going home." -- Predators center Ryan Johansen on being booed in his first game in Columbus since the Blue Jackets traded him to Nashville on Jan. 6, 2016
"He was outstanding. He was at his best when we needed him to be in the first period when we weren't at our sharpest." -- Predators coach Peter Laviolette on goalie Juuse Saros
"We had some good minutes. We had some fair minutes. We crawled back into it. We beat ourselves in a couple of plays." -- Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella
Need to know
Nashville is 6-3-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets. … The Predators are 17-2-5 when scoring first. … Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell (lower body) returned after missing two games, but forward Lukas Sedlak (lower body) did not play. … The three-point game was Werenski's first in the NHL. … Columbus starts its five-day break Monday. The Blue Jackets after the game recalled goaltender Anton Forsberg and assigned goaltender Joonas Korpisalo to Cleveland, which plays three times during the break.
Predators: Host the Calgary Flames on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; SN1, SNP, FS-TN, NHL.TV)
Blue Jackets: Host the New York Islanders on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV)
Video: Ekholm's goal lifts Predators to 4-3 win over Jackets