NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Ville Koistinen's wait was well worth it.
Koistinen scored his first NHL goal and it turned out to be the winner in the Nashville Predators' 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night. "We have over 80 games, so I knew it was going to come sometime," Koistinen said. The rookie defenceman didn't get frustrated by his lack of scoring, but the goal was surely a welcome lift for his teammates.
"It is a goal I will remember all my life," Koistinen said. "I haven't thought about it that much, but I knew it was going to come.
"I am not a big goal scorer. I have never had more than nine in a season. I like the passing part of it. That is a big part of my game."
Predators coach Barry Trotz has often called Koistinen the best defenceman on the team. He saw nothing Thursday to make him change his mind.
"The puck-distributing part of Ville's game is really solid," Trotz said. "He has a lot of life in his legs right now. Ville gets the job done with his feet. He has been good. He had a huge goal."
Jason Arnott, Alexander Radulov and Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Predators.
Kris Beech and David Vyborny had power-play goals for the Blue Jackets, and Jiri Novotny also scored for Columbus.
Nashville topped its Central Division rival for the 12th straight time.
"There is no secret to beating Columbus," Trotz said. "And if there was I wouldn't tell you. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us."
Predators goalie Chris Mason improved to 4-0 against the Blue Jackets by stopping 36 shots.
"We don't like them and they surely don't like us," Mason said. "Every game is a one-goal game. We have had to scrap for every point."
Arnott opened the scoring 10:09 in during a 5-on-3 power play. Marek Zidlicky passed the puck to Arnott, who fired a one-timer from the middle of the left circle that went across goalie Fredrik Norrena and high into the right side of the net.
The Predators had five power plays in the first period as the Blue Jackets racked up eight penalties.
In the second period, the Blue Jackets scored at 4:20 on the power play. Jason Chimera's shot from near the top of the slot was stopped by goalie Chris Mason, but the rebound went forward, bounced off the right skate of Beech and into the left side of the net.
Radulov gave the Predators a 2-1 edge at 10:55 of the second period. Zidlicky backhanded a pass to Radulov who ripped a one-timer between the legs of Norrena from high above the right circle.
The Blue Jackets tied it 2-2 on the power play with 1:52 left in the second period. Ron Hainsey's slap shot from just inside the blue line was deflected near the crease by Vyborny and went under Mason's pads. Mason apparently thought he had made the stop, but the puck trickled across the goal line.
In the third period, Novotny gave the Blue Jackets a 3-2 lead at 14:27 when he put in the rebound of a shot by Nikolai Zherdev.
Tootoo tied it less than a minute later when he scored from the right circle.
Koistinen scored the winning goal with 1:45 left when he shot a loose puck between the left post and Norrena's stick.
"We spit the bit in the final five minutes," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said.
It was the 300th win for both the Predators and Trotz, marking the 18th time a coach has won 300 games with an NHL team. Scotty Bowman did it with Montreal and Detroit. Lindy Ruff, who has 377 wins with Buffalo, is the only other coach who has reached the milestone with his current team.
"It's great for the franchise," Trotz said. "It says we have been around for a while. It is big for the organization in our 10th year. Every win is a part of Predators history. It is a milestone, but we hope we can carry on and have even bigger milestones."
Notes: Zidlicky assisted on three goals giving him points in nine of 13 games (1 goal, 9 assists). Kevin Klein played in his first game for Nashville since Oct. 30. Mason is 4-0 against Columbus this season. The Blue Jackets have scored three power-play goals in two games after going six without one. Columbus LW Rick Nash missed his second straight game due to a throat problem that is hampering his breathing.