Columbus at Nashville

Predators earn sixth playoff berth in seven seasons

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators are in the playoffs. That doesn't mean they're finished yet with the regular season.

Not while there's still any chance at home-ice advantage in the postseason.

Western Conference
SeedTeamGPPTSROW
1p-Chicago487730
2y-Anaheim486624
3y-Vancouver485921
4x-St. Louis486024
5x-Los Angeles485925
6x-San Jose485717
7x-Detroit485622
8x-Minnesota485522
Eliminated
9o-Columbus485519
10o-Phoenix485117
11o-Dallas484820
12o-Edmonton484517
13o-Calgary484219
14o-Nashville484114
15o-Colorado483914
Complete Playoff Race >>

"We've got some unfinished business," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Friday night after a 4-1 victory over Columbus clinched the Predators' sixth playoff berth in seven seasons.

"We said we want to go as high as we can, and if we can get two more points tomorrow night that'd be huge for us as a team and an organization. You're talking about maybe the possibility of home ice. Home ice has been an advantage for us this past month. We'll take it right now."

Patric Hornqvist scored two goals and had an assist, and the Predators wrapped up their home schedule. They conclude the regular season Saturday night in St. Louis where a win could help them start the playoffs at home -- where they went 24-9-8 this season. Washington and Vancouver are the only other NHL teams with fewer than 10 regulation losses at home.

"There's a lot on the table," Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. "We can still finish fourth. I think we need a little bit of help from other teams, but it's in our hands and that would be amazing to start at home."

Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn also scored to help Nashville extend the NHL's longest active home winning streak against one team with its 17th straight over Columbus. The Blue Jackets haven't won in Nashville since April 3, 2006.

Derick Brassard scored for Columbus, which lost its fifth straight.

"Obviously, they have a good team, they have good fans, and it is pretty hard to play here but 0-17 needs to stop," Brassard said. "Next year we are going to take care of that."

With another sellout crowd on hand, the Predators opened with plenty of energy and wasted little time ensuring at least another postseason slot against a Columbus team playing with captain Rick Nash sitting out his fifth straight game with a back injury.

The Blue Jackets outshot the Predators 45-25, but Rinne improved to 33-21-9 by stopping shot after shot away.

"To me, he's our MVP without a doubt," Trotz said. "I would say he's probably the best goaltender in the National Hockey League. You have to talk about who's the most valuable player to his team, which is what the Hart Trophy's about. Pekka's got to be in the top three for me."

Hornqvist opened the scoring six minutes into the first period when he tapped the puck into the open net after Mike Fisher drew a couple of Blue Jackets and goalie Steve Mason to him at the post.

The Predators jumped out 3-0 scoring two goals 54 seconds apart in the second. Jerred Smithson passed the puck to Halischuk in the slot, and he used his skate to knock it back to his stick before beating Mason between the legs. Hornqvist scored his second of the night unassisted with a backhander from the right circle at 2:42.

Nashville captain Shea Weber had a nice break-up of his own a couple feet in front of Rinne midway through the second. Brassard tried a cross-ice pass to a teammate only to see Weber just swat away the puck. Brassard did score on a slap shot at 18:32 from the right circle to avoid the shutout as part of 22 shots by Columbus in the period.

"Peks made it look pretty easy so I didn't know they had that many," Nashville defenseman Shane O'Brien said. "We lean on him a little too much at times this year, but I think he's the best in the world. We're lucky to have him."

Columbus coach Scott Arniel said his Blue Jackets had probably four quality chances in the first couple minutes of the second only to have three turnovers with the puck finding the net. He credited Nashville's defense with coming up despite all the time they spent in front of Rinne.

"At the end of the day, we only scored one goal. He stopped us 44 times, and we lost another hockey game. We talked about trying to stop the bleeding in this rink and against this team," Arniel said. "We did lots of good things but certainly not enough."

Kostitsyn, Nashville's other 20-goal scorer, padded the lead at 12:25 of the third. Hornqvist skated up the right side with the puck and shot, and the puck rattled off Kostitsyn and over the line to start fans celebrating with a standing ovation through a timeout.

Notes

  • Nashville notched its 16th sellout.
  • Hornqvist became Nashville's second 20-goal scorer this season. He also has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in his last 10 games.
  • Kostitsyn's goal extended his points streak to 11 games, the second-longest run in franchise history (7 goals, 8 assists).
  • The opening faceoff was delayed eight minutes while workers replaced a piece of glass beside the Predators' bench area.
  • Nashville improved to 30-5-8 when scoring first.
  • Predators center Mike Fisher extended his points streak to six straight games with an assist. He has eight points (4 goals, 4 assists).
  • Predators forward Steve Sullivan returned from a groin injury that had kept him out since Feb. 24.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
The Predators acknowledge their fans after recording the 24th victory on home ice this regular season. (AP)
The Predators acknowledge their fans after recording the 24th victory on home ice this regular season. (AP)

Scoreboard
Columbus (34-34-13)0101
Nashville  (44-26-11) «1214
Three Stars
P. Rinne
NSH


Saves: 44
Save Pct.: .978
P. Hornqvist
NSH


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 1
M. Halischuk
NSH


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 0
Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
06:00 - Patric Hornqvist (20), Tip-In. Assist: Fisher, Weber
2ND PERIOD
01:48 - Matt Halischuk (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Smithson, Tootoo
02:42 - Patric Hornqvist (21), Backhand Shot, Unassisted.
18:32 - Derick Brassard (17), Slap Shot. Assist: Umberger
3RD PERIOD
12:25 - Sergei Kostitsyn (23), Tip-In. Assist: Hornqvist, Klein
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
None
2ND PERIOD
14:52MacKenzie, 5 min, Fighting
14:52Geoffrion, 5 min, Fighting
19:50Lepisto, 2 min, Hooking
3RD PERIOD
58.0Sullivan, 2 min, Tripping
12:55Lepisto, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
16:08Lepisto, 2 min, High-Sticking
Shots On Goal
 123T
CLB12221145
NSH108725
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Steve Mason60:00214
Pekka Rinne60:00441
Game Information
Attendance - 17113
Referees - Kelly Sutherland, Rob Martell
Linesmen - Mark Shewchyk, Vaughan Rody
 
Other Games
Pitt 4 Final
NYI 3
Chi 4 Final
Det 2
Phi 3 Final
OT
Buf 4
Fla 2 Final
TB 4
Car 6 Final
Atl 1
Min 3 Final
Edm 1
Dal 3 Final
Colo 2
SJ 3 Final
Pho 4
LA 1 Final
Ana 2