<
>

Zidlicky's two goals, assists lead Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Nashville Predators snapped a
three-game losing streak with strong play on both ends of the ice.

Marek Zidlicky scored two power-play goals and added an assist
to help the Predators to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue
Jackets on Saturday night.

Nashville scored five goals for just the second time in 11
games, and held Columbus to 25 shots on goal -- the first time in
six games the Predators allowed fewer than 36.

"We played a good all-around game and it showed on the
scoreboard," Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun said. "We skated well.
We had a strong power play. We hit. We did all the right things to
win."

Nashville coach Barry Trotz was also pleased with his team's
effort.

"Our defense played really well in terms of moving the puck,"
he said. "We came our and played a smart game with good energy. I
thought we played a real solid game."

Four of their five goals were scored by players heading to the
Olympics. Zidlicky and Martin Erat will play for the Czech Republic
along with Vokoun who stopped 23 shots. Kimmo Timonen will play for
Finland.

"They really stepped it up," Trotz said. "This was like the
last day of school. Everyone is looking at the clock and it's 2:55.
But we were able to maintain our focus."

Zidlicky opened the scoring 2:19 into the game with a one-timer
from a few feet inside the blue line.

Columbus answered with a pair of goals in a span of 49 seconds.
Rick Nash tied the score at 3:40 when he went up high from low
inside the left circle. Nikolai Zherdev then got his team-leading
19th goal, scoring from the middle of the right circle on a wrist
shot to put the Blue Jackets ahead.

"It's frustrating to get two quick goals and still lose," Nash
said. "Nashville capitalized on opportunities and we didn't."

Zidlicky tied the game at 12:22 of the first period with another
one-timer from a few feet inside the blue line.

Scottie Upshall, who has split time between Nashville and
Milwaukee of the AHL, got the game-winner at 17:35 of the second
when he skated in behind Paul Kariya and put the rebound of
Kariya's shot past Columbus goalie Marc Denis.

"To be able to come in and contribute is great," Upshall said.
"I think my game is at the highest level right now."

Martin Erat extended the Predators' lead to 4-2 at 16:52 of the
second, firing a shot from the right circle that went across the
goal mouth and into the left side of the net.

Timonen, working 1-on-1 low in the slot, went high over the left
shoulder of Denis at 13:27 of the third to close the scoring.

"The teams below us are starting to catch up," Timonen said.
"This was a huge game for us since we had lost three in a row."

Denis stopped 31 shots and lost for just the third time in his
last 10 starts.

Game notes
The Predators placed defenseman Jamie Allison on waivers
after the game. ... Nashville has scored two power-play goals in
each of its last two games. ... Kariya was credited with two
assists against Columbus giving him 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists)
in seven games. He also has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in
his last eight games and leads Nashville in multipoint games with
18.