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Preds, Blues, Oilers tangled at bottom of race

3/28/2004

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tyler Wright scored 2:03 into overtime,
and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Nashville Predators 3-2
Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

The Predators extended their home winless skid to five straight
and missed an opportunity to move into sole possession of seventh
place in the Western Conference. Nashville blew a 2-0 lead and has
not won at home since beating the New York Rangers 2-1 on Feb. 28.

Nashville has 85 points and is tied with St. Louis, a 4-3
overtime winner over Chicago, and idle Edmonton. St. Louis has 36
victories, Nashville 35, and Edmonton 34.

Nikolai Zherdev forced overtime with his power-play goal at
14:05 of the third, and Rick Nash scored his NHL-leading 40th goal
this season and had an assist in helping Columbus win for only the
seventh time away from home.

Andreas Johansson had a goal and an assist for Nashville, and
rookie Dan Hamhuis had a goal.

Nashville had every chance to beat Columbus for the fifth time
in the season series finale, but the Predators went 0-for-7 on the
power play.

Zherdev tied it with his 12th this season, and Columbus goalie
Marc Denis should have gotten an assist.

Denis skated out to the left circle to knock the puck away from
Nashville forward Steve Sullivan on a short-handed breakaway.
Sullivan tried to pass to a teammate, but the Blue Jackets
intercepted. Nash fed the puck to Zherdev to tie the game.

Still, Nashville had two more power plays to try to pull out the
victory but couldn't get past Denis, who stopped 35 shots.

Hamhuis, a healthy scratch in Thursday night's 4-2 victory over
the Rangers, put Nashville up 1-0 with his seventh goal midway
through the second. He scored on a one-timer under Denis' right leg
after Johansson found him with a cross-ice pass at the front edge
of the left circle.

Johansson gave Nashville a 2-0 lead at 15:51 of the period when
he scored his 12th by putting back a rebound of Scott Walker's shot
from in front of the crease.

But Nash made it 2-1 as he scored from the slot off a pass from
Andrew Cassels at 18:44 of the second. He became the first teenager
with 40 goals in a season since Jimmy Carson had 55 goals in
1987-88.

Game notes
Columbus forward Manny Malhotra, who scored two goals in a
period in beating Nashville on Feb. 16, was not in the lineup. He
sat out after taking a slap shot off his right ankle last
Wednesday. ... Sullivan has five assists in three games, and Walker
has four points in three. ... Cassels extended his streak to three
assists in three games. ... Nashville fell to 26-2-3-3 when leading
after two periods. ... Columbus D Rostislav Klesla played in his
200th NHL game.