COLUMBUS — The Nashville Predators scored twice in 29 seconds in the first minute of the third period in a 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday.
Calle Jarnkrok scored his second goal of the game at 16 seconds for a 3-2 lead, and Filip Forsberg made it 4-2 at 45 seconds.
“I think it was probably our best game of the season if you look at three periods,” Jarnkrok said. “I think we had a little dip there in the second, but other than that we played great. I feel like we played hockey again, so it was nice.”
Pekka Rinne made 21 saves for Nashville (7-10-0), which had lost five of six but gained a split after losing to Columbus 3-0 on Thursday.
Gabriel Carlsson scored his first NHL goal in his season debut, and Cam Atkinson had his five-game goal streak end for Columbus (8-7-4), which lost goalie Elvis Merzlikins to an injury.
Merzlikins made 35 saves before leaving at 2:40 of the third period. He made 32 saves Thursday in his first start since Jan. 31. He sustained an upper-body injury Feb. 3 during practice and was placed on injured reserve until Feb. 11. There was no update on his latest injury.
“It’s only a game because of him those first two periods,” Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones said.
Joonas Korpisalo made six saves in relief.
The Predators took at 1-0 lead at 12:58 of the first period when Jarnkrok scored with seven seconds left on a power play.
Colton Sissons made it 2-0 at 16:49, converting a pass from below the line by Luke Kunin to the low slot.
“One of the things we’ve been talking about with the forwards quite a bit is we had to be harder on the puck down low in the offensive zone,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “I think tonight you saw a lot of times where we get in, we got over pucks, we weren’t easily corner-contained, we weren’t easily pinned to the wall, we spun out of checks, we kept plays alive down low.
“That allows you to kick it low to high and you get some shots and have some sustained offensive zone time.”
The Blue Jackets went 18:38 without a shot on goal until Boone Jenner scored shorthanded at 3:46 of the second to make it 2-1. It was his sixth goal of the season and the fourth shorthanded by Columbus.
Carlsson, playing for defenseman David Savard (illness), made it 2-2 at 5:28 off a cross-ice pass on the right side by Oliver Bjorkstrand. It was Carlsson’s 24th NHL game.
“It was a great pass from [Bjorkstrand],” Carlsson said. “I had an open net pretty much. I just had to put it in. It was nice to get my first goal, but we didn’t win so it doesn’t really matter.
“We had a little momentum after that. We started to get a little bit more into their zone, but we couldn’t get another goal.”
The Predators had blown their two-goal lead but felt they were still controlling play.
“Once we were able to get to the offensive zone, we were able to hem them in,” Forsberg said. “Obviously, they get two goals in the second, but it didn’t really change our game at all. I think we played the same way through 60 minutes and got rewarded with a big win.”
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella blamed the loss on a season-long problem.
“I do think we have zero concentration, but the two goals are just. … they’re free,” Tortorella said. “Right now, concentration, or their lack of it, is a big problem with this club. Major concern 19 games in.
“As bad as we played for two periods, and we have a goalie stand on his head like he did, and to enter the third period, it’s just an egregious turnover that causes the first one. Really, it was just a turnover, it wasn’t like it was a forced turnover. And the second one, we just get spanked one-on-one, and there’s your two goals.”
NOTE: Rinne won his 22nd game against the Predators, passing Evgeni Nabokov for the most against them in Blue Jackets history. Rinne is 22-8-3 in 34 games against Nashville.