Defenseman Mattias Ekholm returned to the lineup and had the first two-goal game of his career as the Nashville Predators defeated the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 Saturday.
Juuse Saros made 29 saves as the Predators won for the third time in their past four games. They'll try to sweep the two-game series with Columbus when the teams meet again Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena.
Cam Atkinson scored for the Blue Jackets, who have lost six of their past seven games. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 31 of 33 shots.
Ekholm, in his 10th season with the Predators, had missed six consecutive games since Feb. 9 for undisclosed reasons. During that time, his wife, Ida, gave birth to the couple's second child, daughter Mya.
Trailing 1-0, Ekholm tied it at 1:12 of the second period. His slap shot from the left point found the upper right corner of the net, thanks in part to Mikael Granlund's screen out front. Dante Fabbro and Filip Forsberg were credited with assists on the goal, which gave Ekholm his 200th career point.
Ekholm got the go-ahead goal at 16:54 of the second. The Blue Jackets tried to clear the puck after winning a faceoff in their own end, but Ekholm was able to stop the puck with his skate before taking a wrist shot. The puck somehow made its way through a maze of players out front and into the upper left corner of the net.
That goal gave the Predators the lead after two periods for the first time in 20 games this season.
Atkinson opened the scoring at 7:26 of the first after a Nashville turnover in its own end of the rink. That created a short 2-on-0 break, with Boone Jenner sliding the puck across the top of the crease to Atkinson, who put a one-timer between Saros' pads. Jack Roslovic also got an assist on the goal.
--Field Level Media
|Cam Atkinson 1||Points||Mattias Ekholm 2|
|Cam Atkinson 1||Goals||Mattias Ekholm 2|
|Boone Jenner 1||Assists||Dante Fabbro 1|
|N/A||Power Play Goals||N/A|
|N/A||Short Handed Goals||N/A|
|Joonas Korpisalo .939||Save Percentage||Juuse Saros .967|
|Joonas Korpisalo 31||Saves||Juuse Saros 29|
|Team||Shots||Goals||Power Play||Penalty Kill||Penalty Mins||Face Offs Won|