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Blue Jackets beat Predators, extend win streak to six

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Columbus Blue Jackets might have
what it takes to be an NHL playoff team. They just found out too
late to help them this season.

While reduced to playing out the string, working for contracts
and pride, the Blue Jackets stretched their winning streak to a
franchise-record six games with a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Monday night.

Nashville, which will be in the playoffs, joins Dallas and
Detroit as postseason-bound teams that have fallen to the Blue
Jackets in this run. Columbus also knocked off playoff hopeful San
Jose and also-rans Chicago and St. Louis.

"It means a lot to win six games in a row," Blue Jackets
forward Jason Chimera said. "We can compete with the best teams in
the league. I think we are a playoff hockey team. We proved over
the last six games that we can play with anybody."

Manny Malhotra, Chimera and Mark Hartigan each scored for
Columbus. The Predators started No. 2 goaltender Chris Mason
instead of Tomas Vokoun, who is expected to be out for at least two
games with a sore back.

Pascal Leclaire made 36 saves for the Blue Jackets, which lost
three previous games this season in Nashville.

"Coming in here and winning the sixth game is tough," Columbus
coach Gerard Gallant said. "We have had a bad record here this
season."

The Predators, however, lost for the fifth time in six games.
Playing without Steve Sullivan and Marek Zidlicky, two of the key
elements of their power play, the Predators scored on one of 10
chances. They had two 5-on-3 advantages in the second period when
they went scoreless on five power plays.

"Not having Sullivan and Zidlicky in the lineup affects your
power play," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "We had lots of
chances in the second period, but we didn't capitalize."

Nashville jumped out to a 1-0 lead a little over one minute in
during a power play. Yanic Perreault passed the puck from the right
circle to Dan Hamhuis, who was skating in from the left side.

The Predators gave up a short-handed goal that got the Blue
Jackets even. Malhotra beat Mason to his stick side from close
range at 10:07.

Columbus struck again 5 minutes later. Aaron Johnson fired a
one-timer from along the left wall just inside the blue line.
Chimera was stationed near the crease and flipped the deflection
over Mason's shoulder.

The Blue Jackets then scored 6:38 into the third period when
Hartigan corralled a loose puck in the slot and sent a wrist shot
past Mason.

"I give full credit to Columbus," Trotz said. "They were very
resilient. They had a hot goaltender. They capitalized on their
chances."

The Blue Jackets lost David Vyborny at the 10:05 mark of the
first period after colliding with Brendan Witt. According to
Gallant, Vyborny injured his knee in the play at center ice.

"I think they [the NHL] are going to look at it," Gallant said.
"I think he is going to be out for a while."

Game notes
Columbus has scored nine short-handed goals this season,
six against Nashville. ... Columbus had scored a power-play goal in
three straight games. ... Hartigan has three goals in two games.
... Nashville LW Darcy Hordichuk returned after a three-game
suspension. ... Nashville's Scott Walker played in his 600th NHL
game. ... Paul Kariya assisted on Nashville's first goal, giving
him at least one point in eight of nine games.