Nashville's Adam Hall scored with 20 seconds remaining to bring the Predators even at 2-2 and force an overtime session with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Adam Foote's goal 35 seconds into the extra session brought Nashville's unbeaten streak to an end at eight games Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
"It's very unfortunate, but I said to the guys I'm proud of the start," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "We got a good start to our season. Now we've got 73 more games to go and we've got to let it go now and worry about the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night."
After a scoreless first period in which Columbus outshot Nashville 11-6, the Central Division rivals traded goals in the second. Trevor Letowski opened the scoring when he picked up the puck to the left side of the Predators' net, skated across the crease and reached past goaltender Tomas Vokoun to put the puck inside the right post. With 5:28 gone in the second, Columbus led 1-0.
Predators forward Paul Kariya evened it up less than five minutes later with his fourth goal of the season. His tally came on the power play with the Predators set up in the offensive zone. Marek Zidlicky sent a pass from inside the blue line to teammate Steve Sullivan in the left corner. Sullivan then delivered the puck to Kariya who was skating into the slot from the right, and Kariya zipped a shot over Blue Jackets goalie Martin Prusek to make it 1-1 at 10:04.
The scoreboard remained unchanged until late in the third period. Many in the building--including the goal judge--thought the Blue Jackets had scored on the power play with about four minutes remaining. Though the shot did not go in, the red light went on and led to a surreal hometown goal celebration--with music and crowd participation--as play carried on without a stoppage. Half a minute later, the Blue Jackets lit the lamp legitimately off the stick of Mark Hartigan. He collected a rebound from Manny Malhotra's long shot and shoveled a backhander that beat Vokoun to give Columbus a 2-1 lead with 3:27 remaining in regulation.
A door opened for Nashville when Jason Chimera was penalized for hooking down Kimmo Timonen with 40 seconds left. With Vokoun on the bench for an extra offensive attacker, the Predators mounted a six-on-four barrage in an effort to send the game to overtime. A shot by Timonen was blocked by traffic and the puck bounced through skates before Yanic Perreault got a stick on it to send it in the direction of Hall in the slot. Hall took a backhand shot that targeted the upper left corner of the net, beat Prusek and tied the contest at 2-2 in dramatic fashion at 19:40 of the third. The game went to sudden-death OT, guaranteeing Nashville one point in the standings.
The team's hopes for the extra point and a win that would extend the unbeaten string to nine games were buoyed when Blue Jackets right wing David Vyborny was whistled for hooking 13 seconds into the fourth period. Yet Nashville gave up a two-on-one short-handed break soon into the ensuing power play, and Adam Foote ended the game--and the Predators' franchise-record winning streak--when he beat Vokoun just inside the near post at the 35 second mark.
"We've danced with the devil a little bit in terms of chances, and it sort of came back and burnt us tonight," Trotz said. Columbus registered 34 total shots compared to 24 for the Predators. While Nashville's record falls to 8-0-1, the team remains unbeaten in regulation and has collected 17 of the possible 18 points in their first nine games.
"I give our guys a lot of credit," Trotz said. "They battled back to tie it up and took it to overtime to get a point there."
For Nashville, the game was the second of a back-to-back set that began with a rough and tumble match against the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center. Columbus did not play yesterday and used the extra rest to their advantage, according to Trotz.
"[The Blue Jackets] had a lot of jump and they were focused," he said. "They played a hard game and they forced us to work real hard. We've had to expend a lot of energy in the last two days, so they forced us to work through that."
Next, Nashville returns home for a Saturday night game against the Edmonton Oilers. Game time is 7 p.m. Tickets are still available and can be ordered by calling (615) 770-PUCK, purchasing online, or visiting any Ticketmaster location. The first 4,000 children age 12 and under will receive a Mountain Dew Pitch Black Drawstring Trick or Treat Bag.
Notes: Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped 31 of 34 shots he faced while his counterpart Martin Prusek saved 22 of 24 Nashville chances... Predators penalty killers allowed one goal on six Blue Jackets power play opportunities; Columbus allowed two goals in the 12 opportunities Nashville had with the man advantage... Center Vernon Fiddler was recalled from Milwaukee (AHL) on Wednesday and inserted into the lineup against Columbus in place of Greg Johnson, who was injured while blocking a shot during Tuesday's game with Chicago... Scott Hartnell and Dan Hamhuis were kept off the scoresheet Wednesday, bringing each of their career-high point scoring streaks to an end. Hartnell had collected 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in five consecutive games, and Hamhuis had recorded 5 points in three straight (1 goal, 4 assists)... Nashville's Darcy Hordichuk and Columbus' Jody Shelley dropped the gloves for a lengthy fight 5:31 into the second period... Adam Hall's goal was his first of the season.