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Preds win again in battle for No. 4 seed

Apr 9, 2011 - 5:21 AM
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Pekka Rinne stopped 44 shots to help the Nashville Predators clinch a playoff spot with a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Wins by Nashville and Phoenix on Friday gave both teams 99 points for the fourth spot in the Western Conference with one game to play. The Predators play in St. Louis while Phoenix plays in San Jose with both games on Saturday.

Patric Hornqvist scored twice and added an assist while Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal for the Predators, who have won two straight and close out their season on Saturday in St. Louis.

Derick Brassard had the lone goal while Steve Mason was touched for all four goals on 25 shots for the Blue Jackets, who have dropped their past five games.

"When you have a good goaltender like they do it forces you to shoot more," said Brassard. "There is a lot of frustration in our locker room cause we try hard and put everything we have into every game and it's just not working out for us right now."

Six minutes into the game the Predators took a 1-0 lead as Mike Fisher took the puck into the Columbus end and outhustled the defender to get a shot on net down low that Hornqvist followed up for the rebound goal.

Less than two minutes into the second, the Predators took a 2-0 lead as Halischuk took a pass in the Columbus end and switched to the forehand before stuffing the puck in.

It was a 3-0 game less than a minute later as Hornqvist's backhander from the right circle fooled Mason for his 21st goal of the season.

Brassard got Columbus on the board with 1:28 to play in the second with a big blast from the right circle that beat Rinne cleanly.

Kostitsyin scored with 7 1/2 minutes to play in the third with a tip-in of a Hornqvist pass.

Game Notes

Nashville went 24-9-8 at home this season...The Blue Jackets, who were 17-16-8 on the road, close their season at home on Saturday against Buffalo...The Predators took four of six from Columbus this season.