The Nashville Predators picked up where they ended the preseason, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 at Nationwide Arena on Friday night. Matt Halischuk’s backhander, 39 seconds into the third period was the eventual game winner. Ryan Suter and Craig Smith had the first two Preds’ goals. Vinny Prospal and Rick Nash scored for the Jackets. Pekka Rinne picked up the win, stopping 32 of 34 shots, while Steve Mason gave up three goals on 31 Predator shots. The Preds converted a goal on three chances on the man advantage while holding Columbus scoreless on five power plays.
It was a typical Preds-Jackets game with plenty of chippy play and close checking in a back and forth game. The game ended with a scramble in front of the Predator net with bodies all over the ice trying to cover the puck in the last few seconds. The Predators left immediately after the game and will play the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Barry Trotz now has a winning record in opening games, moving to 7-6 with the victory.
The Preds continued their net crashing with aggressive play around the net with Spaling, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Wilson, and O’Reilly all camping out around the net looking for rebound goals.
Shea Weber knocked Steve Mason’s helmet off with a shot from the blue line midway through the second period.
Rick Nash really went down easily drawing a penalty when Smithson touched his skates in the third period.
Prospal hit a post in the third period that could have easily gone in off of Rinne had it not been for a favorable bounce. On the other end, Craig Smith got a pipe at 3:38 in what could have been his second goal.
Jerred Smithson missed a chance at an empty netter with when he committed a turnover near the Columbus net.
The Predators Wisconsin connection provided two goals and an assist with Suter and Smith picking up goals and Suter also adding an assist. Smith tied for the most shots with five along with Shea Weber and Nick Spaling.
Jackets fans had to be happy with Jeff Carter’s and Vinny Prospal’s first games in Columbus as Prospal had had a goal and an assist and Carter had two assists. Rick Nash also had a two point game with a goal and a helper.
The Predators new third defensive pair, Hillen and Laakso, each took penalties in the game while playing 23 shifts and each had a shot.
The Predators struggled in the faceoff circle, winning 30 and losing 43 for a 42% win total.
Mike Fisher was given the team’s second “A” before the game but Marty Erat donned it during the game as Fisher remains on Injured Reserve.
Scratches for game one were Zack Stortini, Niclas Bergfors, and Mattias Ekholm. It was somewhat surprising that Stortini sat since Columbus always seems to resort to fisticuffs.