NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Patric Hornqvist scored two goals and had an assist, and the Nashville Predators clinched their sixth playoff berth in seven seasons with a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night in their final home game of the regular season.
Matt Halischuk and Sergei Kostitsyn also scored to help Nashville extend the NHL's longest active home winning streak against one team with its 17th straight over Columbus. The Blue Jackets haven't won in Nashville since April 3, 2006.
The Predators will wrap up the regular season Saturday night in St. Louis with a chance to earn the Western Conference's fourth seed and start the playoffs at home — where they went 24-9-8 this season. Washington and Vancouver are the only other NHL teams with fewer than 10 regulation losses at home.
Derick Brassard scored for Columbus, which lost its fifth straight.
With another sellout crowd on hand, the Predators opened with plenty of energy and wasted little time ensuring at least another postseason slot against a Columbus team playing with captain Rick Nash sitting out his fifth straight game with a back injury.
The Blue Jackets outshot the Predators 45-25, but goalie Pekka Rinne improved to 33-21-9 by stopping shot after shot away.
The Predators jumped out 3-0 scoring two goals 54 seconds apart in the second. Jerred Smithson passed the puck to Halischuk in the slot, and he used his skate to knock it back to his stick before beating Mason between the legs. Hornqvist scored his second of the night unassisted with a backhander from the right circle at 2:42.
Nashville captain Shea Weber had a nice break-up of his own a couple feet in front of Rinne midway through the second. Blue Jackets center Derick Brassard tried a cross-ice pass to a teammate only to see Weber just swat away the puck. Brassard did score on a slap shot at 18:32 from the right circle to avoid the shutout.
Kostitsyn, Nashville's other 20-goal scorer, padded the lead at 12:25 of the third. Hornqvist skated up the right side with the puck and shot, and the puck rattled off Kostitsyn and over the line to start fans celebrating with a standing ovation through a timeout.
NOTES: Nashville notched its 16th sellout. ... Hornqvist became Nashville's second 20-goal scorer this season. He also has 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in his last 10 games. ... Kostitsyn's goal extended his points streak to 11 games, the second-longest run in franchise history (7 goals, 8 assists). ... The opening faceoff was delayed 8 minutes while workers replaced a piece of glass beside the Predators' bench area. ... Nashville improved to 30-5-8 when scoring first. ... Predators center Mike Fisher extended his points streak to six straight games with an assist. He has eight points (4 goals, 4 assists). ... Predators forward Steve Sullivan returned from a groin injury that had kept him out since Feb. 24.