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Preds Fall to Blue Jackets in Overtime

Young Lineup Puts Forth Solid Effort in Loss

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten /

Anthony Bitetto and Yannick Weber found the back of the net, but the Nashville Predators fell in overtime to the Blue Jackets, 3-2, on Thursday night in Columbus in their third preseason game.

The desired result wasn't attained, but that didn't mean Head Coach Peter Laviolette didn't see some positives, especially considering the amount of youth in the Predators lineup.

"We sent a young team here tonight, and I thought we played hard," Laviolette said. There were a few moments in the games where I don't think we had our stuff… I thought we played a real good first period, and then we got the lead in the third period. They had some chances late and tied it up, but overall, for sending a lot of young players in here like this, I thought our guys played pretty well."

Ryan Craig gave Columbus a 1-0 lead late in the first period, but Nashville evened the score with the man advantage in the second, courtesy of Bitetto.

Defenseman Matt Carle found his partner at the right point, and Bitetto snapped a shot past the blocker of Curtis McElhinney to even the contest at 1-1. The goal was Bitetto's third point of the preseason; He picked up two assists in Nashville's 2-1 win over Florida on Tuesday.

"I feel confident for sure," Bitetto said. "I think it's something where you're getting the chances and you make the most of them. Matt Carle made a beautiful play to get it across to me, and I just kind of threw it on net and it went in, and I think those things happen when you're in the right position at the right time.

"But the confidence is there for sure. I think the playoffs last year really helped me and being involved in two great series. It was just a lot of fun, a lot of emotions, but I think most of all it taught our young guys, and myself included, how to be intense and how to be ready for every game. A lot of our guys are doing that."

Nashville's blue line came through again in the third when Calle Jarnkrok found Weber in the right circle, and the defenseman snapped a shot past McElhinney for their first lead of the night. Columbus tied the game late in regulation before Brandon Dubinsky potted the winner for Columbus in the extra session.

"In the regular season it's crucial, every point comes down to it," Bitetto said. "You come down to the wire at the end, and it feels like it's one point this way one point that way. These are good learning lessons, and for a young group getting off the plane today, we did a lot of good things."

Goaltenders Marek Mazanec and Juuse Saros split the game for the Preds - Mazanec stopped 14 of 15 shots faced and Saros turned aside 23 of 25 to end the game.

"It's never easy," Laviolette said. "We battled back and got ourselves a lead. You don't ever want to give it up in the third period; they were pressing pretty well at the end, and I thought both goaltenders played excellent."


Craig Smith, Calle Jarnkrok and Matt Carle served as alternate captains for the Preds in Columbus. Smith led all Preds with nine shots on goal.

The pairing of Carle and Yannick Weber led the Preds in ice time - Weber skated 27:24, Carle logged 25:50.

Friday's training camp session, which will include Filip Forsberg's and Mattias Ekholm's first skate of the new season, will take place from 12:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. (CT).

The Preds return home to host their first preseason game of 2016 on Saturday when the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town. The game is preceded by the annual Skate of the Union address, a plaza party and other special events. For more, click here.

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