There was a two-goal deficit to dig out of, a blink-and-miss-it scoring surge, and brand-new jerseys flying around the ice at Bridgestone Arena.
In short, the visuals were quite exciting during the Nashville Predators preseason home opener. The Predators handed a 4-3 defeat to Winnipeg in front of an energized home crowd, which had waited months to see its team return to Bridgestone after a stirring Stanley Cup Playoff run in 2010-11.
Let’s get to it …Mully’s Three Musings
1) Tootoo’s fire: Combine the latter part of last season and the first portion of this training camp, and it can be argued that Jordin Tootoo
is playing at the highest level of his NHL career. Obviously determined, Tootoo is faster and sharper on the ice, and his hustle is off the charts. He still plays with the edge that fans have grown to love, but his offensive production is greatly improving. Nashville trailed 2-0 at the end of one, but less than five minutes into the second, Tootoo scored an unassisted goal to cut the Jets’ lead to 2-1. The goal was symbolic of Tootoo’s return to the ice: he stayed with it, battled and was rewarded.
2) Rinne is fine: A collective gasp shot through Bridgestone when goaltender Pekka Rinne
headed to the bench bleeding from his head with 5:36 to go in the second. Not to worry, he’s fine. He took 12 stitches over his right eye and was in good spirits after the game. Rinne allowed one goal on eight shots, but the aspect of Rinne’s game that is most evident now is confidence. The Vezina Trophy finalist from a season ago admitted recently he got too down on himself after losses last season, but that he’s better at putting disappointing performances behind him now. That may not sound like a big deal, but over the course of a long season, it’s huge.
3) Hornqvist does what he does: The hard-nosed and often-face washed Patric Hornqvist
scored the game-winning goal with 6:10 to go in the second and once again looks comfortable in one of the most uncomfortable spots on the ice: in front of the goaltender. Hornqvist is working on trying to score from further out, and if he improves in that area, watch out.Mully’s 3 Stars
1) Jordin Tootoo
. Grabbed momentum back with his second period goal. He tied for second on the team in shots with three and had 12:22 of ice time.
2) Shea Weber
. Two assists, three shots and a lot of stoic leadership once again.
3) Zack Stortini
. Yes, Martin Erat
and Sergei Kostitsyn
scored key goals and are deserving, but let’s give this one to Stortini. The double minor he drew changed the game and he gave his teammates and fans a sneak peak of what to expect from his this season: physical play and a big presence. He will be a fan favorite in no time.Three Quotes
1) Head Coach Barry Trotz: “Players earn the right to play longer or to get less time. Some guys have separated themselves positively and some guys have separated themselves negatively. Some guys kicked up their game on account of we were down. Our guys – our key guys – like Martin Erat
and Sergei Kostitsyn
, really stepped up.”
2) Goaltender Pekka Rinne
, on the injury: “The cage on my mask was bent. I don’t know what really happened. It was just one of those things. It was kind of freaky.”
3) Forward Zack Stortini
, on his first fight of the season: “It was something that is a big part of my job. You know it’s definitely not my first one.”