NASHVILLE Three hours before the abbreviated NHL season would start inside Bridgestone Arena, the Nashville Predators rolled out the gold carpet just outside of it.
It didn't seem to matter to those who showed for the pregame plaza party on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon that a 113-day lockout had nearly taken their NHL season away. Nor did it seem to deter the sold-out and rowdy crowd of 17,113 fans who showed later that night to watch the Predators open the abbreviated 48-game season against Central Division rival Columbus.
And what is a Predators home opener without the traditional catfish being thrown onto the ice by a fan just before face-off? As a game official retrieved it from the ice, the hometown crowd howled.
Indeed, there was a sense of normalcy about the proceedings, although the Predators losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Blue Jackets put a dent in the feel-good script. After all, the Predators had beaten the Blue Jackets 19 times in their last 20 meetings at Brid...