Late third-period goals lift Predators past Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There is definitely a positive vibe surrounding the Nashville Predators after they wrapped up a four-game road trip with their third straight win.
Calle Jarnkrok scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the Predators came away with a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena.
Nashville is going home now after a successful 3-1-0 trip, and joining them there will be center Kyle Turris, who was acquired on Sunday from the Ottawa Senators in a major three-team trade.
“I thought the guys did what we had to do on the road,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “You walk away with six points out of eight on a road trip this early. It’s good to be in the spot we’re in and (now) go home and win some games at home.”
Jarnkrok’s second goal of the season came with 5:35 remaining when a rebound on a shot by Miikka Salomaki found his stick in front of the net. He sent the puck over the outstretched leg of Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo for the game-winner.
Viktor Arvidsson added an empty-netter with 15.1 seconds left to seal the deal. Matt Irwin scored the Predators’ first goal in the second period, and Salomaki contributed two assists for Nashville (8-5-2).
After a slow start to the season that included a loss to the San Jose Sharks in the opening game of the trip, the Predators are starting to resemble the team that reached the Stanley Cup Final in June. They also beat the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings on the western road swing.
“We played a lot of good teams on this trip,” Predators defenseman Roman Josi said. “Didn’t start the way we wanted it to. Didn’t play a good game in San Jose, but after that, you play those four teams and get six points, it’s a pretty good trip.”
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who finished with 35 saves, echoed the sentiments of his teammates and coach.
“There’s been times in past seasons where this western trip has been a season-changer for us,” Rinne said. “Hopefully, it is this time around, too. When you play some of the top teams in the league and come away with six points, we’ve got to be satisfied. It’s nice to go home now.”
The Blue Jackets came home after losing 5-3 on Monday night to the New York Rangers on the road.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored the tying goal at 4:37 of the third period, and the Blue Jackets (9-6-1) picked up some momentum, but they were unable to beat Rinne again.
Korpisalo finished with 26 stops for the Blue Jackets.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said. “Just one of those games when the next team to score is going to win, and it happened to be them.”
The loss was the third in a row for the Blue Jackets.
“For the most part, I liked our game,” Foligno said. “We bent a little bit and broke there at the end where they scored.”
Irwin opened the scoring at 12:36 of the second period. Cutting to the net, he took a pass from Arvidsson in the left circle and fired a wrist shot that found the top of the net past Korpisalo’s glove hand for his second goal of the season.
The Blue Jackets evened the score at 1 early in the third period on an unassisted goal by Dubois. The rookie stole the puck from veteran Predators defenseman P.K. Subban at the blue line and skated in alone on Rinne.
“That’s a pretty good goal,” Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. “I wish it stood for something tonight. The kid is doing a lot of good things right now.”
After giving up three power-play goals to the Rangers on Monday, the Blue Jackets’ penalty kill rebounded and stopped all four of the Predators’ chances with the man advantage.
However, the Blue Jackets had four power-play opportunities of their own and couldn’t convert.
“We had a chance right at the end to tie it up, and there’s all good signs coming,” Foligno said. “At the end of the day, we talk about trying to get wins, and we didn’t do that tonight. That’s disappointing because we did a lot of good things, but they’re the one that found the one at the end to get them the lead and we didn’t.”
NOTES: Blue Jackets RW Cam Atkinson was activated after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He has four goals and five points in 11 games this season. ... C Kyle Turris, acquired by the Predators on Sunday in a three-team trade that involved the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators, did not play. He is expected to see his first action for Nashville on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. ... Blue Jackets LW Matt Calvert will miss three to four weeks with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday at Tampa Bay. He has three goals and five assists in 14 games this season. Columbus is also without fourth-line C Lukas Sedlak (ankle) for another four weeks. ... Blue Jackets D Gabriel Carlsson was activated Sunday off injured reserve and saw action against the Predators. He missed 10 games with an upper-body injury. ... Predators F Scott Hartnell returned to Columbus for the first time after leaving as a free agent in July. In three seasons with the Blue Jackets, Hartnell had 64 goals and 82 assists in 234 games.