Marty Erat and Mike Fisher scored second period goals that would have been plenty but as time was ticking down and the Preds were on the penalty kill, Shea Weber launched a shot 160 feet into the Jackets empty net to rub salt into the open Columbus wound.
Columbus played as well as they have in any of the games against the Predators this season and put pressure on Rinne and the Preds' defense all evening. Rinne made save after save all evening on plenty of Jacket scoring chances.
Steve Mason was the hard luck loser for the Jackets as there was little he could do with either of the two shots that found his net as he stopped 23 of 25 Nashville shots.
When the game ended, Nashville had 58 points and were still in sixth place but had pulled within four points of the Western Conference leading Blackhawks.
The Predators returned home immediately after the game and will play the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.
Postgame Audio from the Columbus PR Department comes from Barry Trotz, Mike Fisher, and Marty Erat.
Make the jump for more detail and a few comments from the couch...
At the Puck Drop...
Goalies: Pekka Rinne (24-11-4, 2.50, .922) and Steve Mason (5-16-2, 3.46, .882) start in net.
Scratches: Nashville: Ryan Suter, Brandon Yip, and Brian McGrattan. Columbus: Grant Clitsome and Dane Byers.
Injuries: Nashville - Ryan Suter (upper body). Columbus - Radek Martinek (upper body), Kristian Huselius (lower body), James Wisniewski (ankle) Mark Letestu (hand), Jeff Carter (shoulder) and R.J. Umberger (upper body).
Coach Lane Lambert was not on the bench due to an emergency appendectomy earlier in the day.
Both teams came out with determination and Columbus appeared to bring more pressure as the period progressed. It almost looked like the Predators were playing solid defense in a rope-a-dope strategy to let the Jacket's wear themselves down.
There was plenty of rough play with the Jackets out-hitting the Preds 18-11 for the period.
The only penalty came at 19:27 when Rick Nash was called for high-sticking David Legwand.
|Blue Jackets||0||13||17||1-2:00||11-7 61%|
The period started with 1:27 in carry-over power play time for the Predators. The Preds only got one shot on the man-advantage but it was an excellent scoring chance as the puck was fed to Craig Smith who was right in front of the net but Mason stopped the shot.
Nick Spaling was sent to the box at 7:32 for tripping Tomas Kubalik. The Preds held the Jackets shotless during the man advantage.
The Predators broke through with the first goal of the game at 11:08 when Sergei (a time to pass) Kostitsyn fed the puck to Erat who made the one-timer on a two on one break
At 11:33, Derek Dorsett was pushed into Rinne by Kevin Klein and was called for goalie interference. The Preds scored on the resulting power play at 13:11 when Erat fed a puck through the slot filled with traffic to an open Fisher who was hanging out on the right side of the net and stuck the puck past Mason. Josi had the secondary assist.
|Blue Jackets||0||7||14||1-2:00||12-8 60%|
The Blue Jackets came out firing on all cylinders in the final period testing the Preds defense and Rinne. In the first seven minutes, they out shot the Preds 10-1 and at 10:14 the margin was 17-2.
Frankie Bouillon was called for hooking Rick Nash at 3:53. The Jackets put intense pressure on the Preds and had four shots on the power play but the defense and Rinne held firm.
The save of the game may have been at 9:18 when Rinne stopped a shot from Derick Brassard while laying flat on his stomach to the right of the net.
With the clock ticking down an Rinne desperately holding on for a shut out, it got tougher at 18:43 when Kostitsyn was called for slashing Nikita Nikitin. However, the Jackets fate was sealed with 32 seconds left when Weber picked up the puck off a faceoff in the Preds zone and launched it from just outside the red line the length of the ice into the Columbus net to make it 3-0. The shot was another oddity in the bitter rivalry.
Rinne did hold on for his fourth shutout of the year and improved his record to 25-11-3. Rinne is now 15-2-0 since the last time the Preds played in Columbus on December 8.
|Blue Jackets||0||8||33||0-0:00||14-58 35%|
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass