Photo Credit: John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
It took six rounds of the shootout, but the Columbus Blue Jackets took a 2-1 shootout win over the Nashville Predators in front of a sell-out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. While Columbus’ victory ended a three-game streak of season opening wins for the Predators, the story for Nashville was the play of the top line of Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mike Fisher.
It was a lackluster performance for the Predators, who have spent the majority of the past eight months locked out due to the CBA labor struggles, however rust was to be expected during the first game back. While Coach Barry Trotz switched pieces around for the other three lines throughout the night, Nashville’s top line stayed the same for the duration of the contest.
“They did some good things and played a lot of quality minutes. There were lots of things they did right, but at the same time they could have a little more detail. Just like everybody,” said Coach Trotz.
Nashville grabbed the lead only 39 seconds into the game with a wrist shot from Martin Erat past Sergei Bobrovsky. The Predators early play against the Blue Jackets was stellar considering the team had only been together and training for the past six days. While Nashville came out on fire, both sides began to show signs of sloppiness as the period progressed.
“It’s hard to jump into it like that, but it was a good start for us. We just couldn’t finsh it for sixty minutes,” said Predators forward Martin Erat
Blue Jackets right winger Derek Dorsett would tally 7 minutes of penalties in the first 13 minutes of action, while the Predators would equal the same with Yip getting 2 for roughing and Hannan engaging in fisticuffs with the aforementioned Dorsett. Columbus would tie the game late in the first with a Fedor Tyutin point shot on the powerplay to make it one a piece. However, only 1:47 later, Ryan Ellis would deposit a powerplay goal of his own, giving Nashville a 2-1 lead they would take into the locker room for the first intermission. The second period, though, was a different story for the Predators.
“It was kind of a strange game, it was up and down,” said Erat. “We’d play well for 5 to 7 minutes and then we would have a couple of bad shifts. We just have to get through it.”
With 9:53 gone in the second, Jared Boll delivered a crushing hit to Predators forward Craig Smith as he was gliding down the ice to join in the rush towards the attacking zone. Predators captain Shea Weber immediately stood up for the downed mith, yet having arguably the world’s best defenseman gone to the penalty box for 5 minutes is never a good strategy. The Blue Jackets poured the pressure on the Nashville end and finally converted to tie the game at 12:05 of the second period, seeing Artem Anisimov score his first of the season (and first as a Blue Jacket).
Nashville and Columbus would go scoreless through the third period and the overtime session before settling the game in the shootout. While the Predators would end the game on a sour note, there were several bright spots for the team through the night. However, in the end, getting a point in the standings was very crucial over the course of a shortened 48-game season.
“We got a point from the game, and if we get a point from every game we’re going to be good,” said Erat.
Powerplay – 1 for 1, 100%
Penalty Kill – 1 for 2, 50%
Best Play of the Game: Martin Erat lasers a wrister over Bobrovsky only 39 seconds into the game, giving the Predators an early 1-0 lead. It was a classic Erat snipe-shot, got to hope we see more of that throughout the year.
Worst Play of the Game: Weber fighting Boll. While the fight was the CORRECT thing to do, in my opinion, it set the Predators back 5 minutes without their best defenseman on the ice. Columbus capitalized, tied the game, and that would be the goal that got them to overtime.
My Three Stars:
#1: – Sergei Kostitsyn – 2 assists, +1 on the night. Great start for the Belarusian who picks up exactly where he left off in the KHL on the scoresheet. Nashville will need consistent scoring like this from him
#2: – Fedor Tyutin – 2 assists, +1 on the night. The Columbus defenseman played nearly 25 minutes and led the team on the scoresheet. Great night for him and a better result as well.
#3: – Martin Erat – 1 goal, +1 on the night. You can’t under-appreciate the little things Erat does on the ice. Starting strong was a great thing for the Predators and you can thank Erat for that.
Game 2 is Monday evening at 5pm in an early MLK Day start against the St. Louis Blues. St. Louis throttled Detroit 6-0 tonight on top of a 14 save Jaroslav Halak shutout. While Halak didn’t see much action in the win, the Predators are going to want to come out just as strong as they did tonight. Hopefully, with a better result this time.