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Predators top Blue Jackets 4-3 in shootout @NHL

Steve Sullivan and the Nashville Predators have made life miserable for the Blue Jackets since they entered the NHL 10 years ago. They did it again on Wednesday night.

Sullivan, who has 43 points in 44 career games against Columbus, didn't hit the scoresheet during regulation or overtime, but he scored the only goal of the shootout as the visiting Predators beat the Jackets 4-3 at Nationwide Arena.

Sullivan, shooting second, beat Steve Mason while Pekka Rinne followed a 28-save performance by making stops on Jakub Voracek, Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette in the shootout.

"I personally like the shootouts," said Rinne, whose team leads the NHL with four wins in six shootouts this season. "We prepare for the shootouts pretty well and we practice them. It's a big part of the game. One point one way or the other, anytime you go into the shootout you want to get that extra point."

Sullivan said he ad-libbed on the shootout winner, on which he deked Mason to the ice at the left of the goalmouth before calmly tapping the puck into the vacant net.

"It looked better on film than how it went through in my mind," he said. "There was a little bit of panic, I'm not going to lie, when I got to the hash marks and the puck was bouncing a little. The play I had designed in my head, that's not what developed."

The Predators improved to 41-13-4-1 all-time against the Blue Jackets -- including 24-4-2 since 2006-07.

Colin Wilson, Sergei Kostitsyn and Kevin Klein scored goals and Martin Erat had two assists for the Predators. Erat now has 40 points in his last 40 games against Columbus.

Vermette scored twice and Kris Russell once for Columbus, which overcame a 2-1 deficit at the start of the third period on goals by Russell and Vermette, only to allow a goal by Klein with 8:22 remaining to force OT.

"We've been pretty good this year when we've gotten leads late in games," rookie Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. "This one shouldn't have happened."

Russell tied the game with a hard wrister from the high slot 2:01 into the third period.

After an Erat blast caught the junction of the post and crossbar but stayed out, the Blue Jackets took a 3-2 lead at 10:01 when Nash made a great individual effort and Vermette collected his second garbage goal. Nash went strong to the net, muscling his way between two defenders to get off a point-blank shot on Rinne. The goalie got a piece of it, but Vermette was there to punch the puck into the net.

Nashville got even on what appeared to be an innocent shot. Klein collected the puck near the blue line, skated laterally for an instant and then fired a hard, low shot that Mason lost in the traffic in front of the net.

"Marty put one off the crossbar and they come down and score a minute later," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "It's one of those things where you can get real deflated. But our team's got really good resiliency. We've got real good character and we battled."

Wilson started the scoring at 17:02 when he batted a seeing-eye passout by Cal O'Reilly past Mason from just in front of the crease.

With Nashville up 1-0 in the second and each team a man down, Columbus pulled even when R.J. Umberger's cross-ice pass led to Jan Hejda's rush to the net. Rinne stopped Hejda's shot but the rebound dropped into the slot where Vermette had an almost-empty net in front of him.

The assist extended Umberger's points streak to a franchise-record 10 games. Umberger has 3 goals and 10 assists during the streak.

Erat made the play on the go-ahead goal. He was skating along the left boards, away from the goal line, when he wristed a hard pass that was tipped into the net by an onrushing Kostitsyn at 16:02 for his third of the season.

In the end, the Blue Jackets had to be content with one point while regretting the one that got away.

"You definitely want to take the point out of their hands," Vermette said. "Those are huge points and we could have had one more tonight."

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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