COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mattias Ekholm's tiebreaking goal at 9:09 of the third period lifted the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.
"We beat ourselves on the fourth one (goal). It was a bad change; four guys on the ice" Columbus coach John Tortorella said.
Earlier in the final period, Blue Jackets rookie defensive sensation Zach Werenski knotted the game at 3-3 after being permitted to walk into the left faceoff circle and score from near the faceoff dot.
"I had some time and when you have that much time you can find a spot you want to hit and that's what I did," Werenski said.
In keeping with the tone set throughout the second and third periods in which the teams repeatedly responded to the other's scoring efforts, Ekholm matched the Werenski goal by flicking a wrist shot into the top corner of the net for the clincher.
"We found a way to win," said Nashville center Ryan Johansen, who returned to Columbus for the first time since last's season's trade for defenseman Seth Jones. "We came here focused on winning a hockey game and we beat them."
Brandon Saad and Oliver Bjorkstrand added the other Columbus goals.
Werenski, Alexander Wennberg and Jones each had two assists, and Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 28 shots.
"Tonight I found the back of the net and that always feels good," Saad said.
While Columbus (37-15-5) put 19 shots on goal in the opening period, including four on a power-play opportunity, it was Ellis netting the lone first-period goal.
Ellis launched a slap shot into the Blue Jackets net from just inside the blue line at 2:24 in the opening period.
At 9:38 of the second period, a defensive zone turnover by Wennberg led to Fiala sliding a puck past Bobrovsky for a 2-0 Nashville advantage.
Bobrovsky responded by making what would be a momentum changing skate-save moments later on a breakaway chance by Nashville's Craig Smith. The seemingly charged up Blue Jackets scored less than a minute after Fiala's tally, with Saad deflecting a Jones attempt from the blue line into the net to cut the lead to 2-1.
Nashville (28-22-8) restored its two-goal advantage when Jarnkrok was able to pop a loose puck into the net that Bobrovsky appeared to have mishandled.
Bjorkstrand sent his second goal of the season over Saros into the top of the net with 2:21 to go in the middle period to make it 3-2.
"I thought we had some good minutes and I think we crawled back into it," Tortorella said. "We had some situations when we made the wrong decisions."
The Columbus crowd greeted Johansen with a chorus of boos early in the contest to which Johansen dismissed by saying: "They're Blue Jackets fans, not Predators fans and they're not a fan of mine anymore."
-- Nashville C Ryan Johansen played at Columbus for the first time since being traded for Blue Jackets D Seth Jones on Jan. 6, 2016. He took one shot on goal in 17:06.
-- Blue Jackets LW Scott Hartnell returned after missing two games with a lower-body injury he sustained against the New York Rangers on Feb. 13.
-- Blue Jackets C Brandon Dubinsky earned 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his previous 16 games, but he was held off the scoresheet Sunday.
-- Following the defeat, the Blue Jackets began their mandated five-day break.
-- D Anthony Bitetto, D Brad Hunt and LW Harry Zolnierczyk were scratches for Nashville, as were C Lukas Sedlak, D Dalton Prout and D Scott Harrington for Columbus.
-- The Predators play host to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday.