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Predators fall 2-0 in preseason opener

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Goaltender Scott Reid
Photo: Doug Brumley
Goaltender Scott Reid, pictured here at training camp Saturday, stopped all 13 shots he faced during a solid third-period performance Sunday night.
The visiting Nashville Predators fell 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday, as both clubs fielded a mix of regulars and prospects on the National Hockey League's first night of exhibition action for the 2006-07 season. Jason Chimera and Alexandre Picard scored first-period goals for the Blue Jackets in a penalty-filled contest, which featured notable Predators performances by defenseman Mikko Lehtonen and goaltender Scott Reid.

Lehtonen, a 6'1" Finnish prospect, fired a game-high six shots through the first two periods of play as Nashville outshot the Blue Jackets 38-31 for the game. The teams combined for 30 penalties during the match, including a trio of fights--Nashville's Nolan Yonkman against Darcy Verot, Alex Henry vs. Brandon Sugden, and Scott Hartnell vs. Jason Chimera. Despite the abundance of power-play time, both goals were scored while the clubs skated at even strength. Chimera's tally was the end result of a solo rush down the length of the ice during four-on-four play. His high backhander beat Predators goaltender Chris Mason--who played the first two periods before splitting the game with Reid--at 12:07 to put Columbus up 1-0. Less than four minutes later, Picard and Alexander Svitov converted on a two-on-one counter-attack to extend the Blue Jackets' lead to 2-0.

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With 1:59 remaining in the period, a tripping call against Columbus d-man Tomas Kloucek gave the Predators a five-on-three power play for 48 seconds. Nashville was unable to capitalize on the prime opportunity, and ultimately finished the game 0-for-12 with the manpower advantage. At the other end of th ice, the Predators' penalty killers blanked Columbus on the home team's nine power-play chances. In net for Nashville, Reid stepped up with some big saves in the closing period, including a stop on Jackets' forward Dan Fritsche around the 11:00 mark.

After a fairly tame first period, the bitter rivalry between the clubs heated up with considerably more physical play in the second and third stanzas. Nashville's line of Jerred Smithson, Darcy Hordichuk and Brandon Segal, which has developed some chemistry in training camp, effectively used its hard-hitting style to create momentum and chances in Columbus' zone on numerous occasions. The Blue Jackets' defense was stingy, though, blocking a total of 20 shots during the game to aid goaltenders Pascal Leclaire and Tomas Popperle, who evenly split the 60-minute contest to share the shutout.

The rivalry will have little time to cool off, as the two clubs will meet again Thursday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Game time is 7:00 p.m.


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