NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After giving up a late tying goal, Keith Kinkaid was determined to still win the game.
Boyle beat Nashville goalie Juuse Saros with a quick wrist shot from the slot on the blocker side.
"I was looking for a spot once I hit the blue line pretty much," Boyle said. "Once I found it, I wanted to be deceptive and try to keep the puck in the middle of my stance so I could go either way and try to use my reach to my advantage. I saw a little daylight on the blocker side and tried to make a quick move."
Kinkaid made 34 saves through overtime and denied four of Nashville's five attempts in the shootout.
Sami Vatanen and Boyle had the goals in regulation for New Jersey, winners of two of three. The Devils moved past idle Columbus into the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"I thought both teams played hard," Devils coach John Hynes said. "I thought their goaltender played really well, I thought our goaltender played really well. It was two teams that were going after the game. It was high-intensity, not a lot of time and space but I thought both teams really came to play."
"We don't ever talk about streaks really," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "We have a huge game coming up (against) Winnipeg. When we do come back to work, we're probably only going to talk about that and getting ready for Winnipeg. That's a big game. We'll look at it to stretch out the division, and they're going to look at to close the gap. Both teams are going to fight pretty hard for it."
With the Predators trailing 2-1 late, Johansen tied it with 1:06 remaining in the third when he put home the rebound of Ryan Ellis' shot from the right side.
"I get in the mindset where I'm not losing this game if they tie it late like that," Kinkaid said. "I guess I can maybe do a better job of deflecting the puck, it was shot through a bunch of bodies. We got the win, that's all that matters."
Ekholm scored the game's first goal at 1:17 of the opening period.
Carrying the puck on the right side, he cut to the left and beat Kinkaid with a wrist shot high to the short side. It was the Swedish defenseman's 10th of the season, the first time he has reached double digits in his career.
"If we play like we did in the second half of this game, I think there will be no issue with consistency," Ekholm said. "I think we could have been better in the first half. I thought we were a little soft and we didn't play the way we can. But I really think we played up to our potential in the last half -- it really showed what kind of team we are and what kind of damage we can do."
Vatanen tied it at 7:13 of the first with a slap shot from the right point through traffic that beat Saros on the stick side. Vatanen has four points in his last four games.
New Jersey made it 2-1 at 11:24 of the second. Just one second after Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban's slashing penalty expired, Boyle redirected Damon Severson's slap shot from above the left circle past Saros for his 13th of the season. Boyle has a goal in two of his last three games.
In overtime, Saros stopped a point-blank chance by Michael Grabner at 1:12.
Nashville D Roman Josi returned to the lineup after missing four games with an upper-body injury. ... Prior to the game, Josi and Boyle, a cancer survivor, took part in a ceremonial faceoff as part of the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. ... Devils D Will Butcher had one assist, extending his point-scoring streak to three games. ... New Jersey is 25-0-2 when leading after two periods this season.
Devils: At Vegas on Wednesday night.
Predators: Host Winnipeg on Tuesday night.