The Nashville Predators closed out the home portion of their preseason slate with a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. The defeat was the Preds first regulation loss in their exhibition schedule after beginning the preseason with a 3-0-1 mark.
“There were a couple of mistakes that I think are fixable systematically; you get new guys in the lineup, and you make a mistake, and something can break down pretty quick,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think those things can be fixed. Our guys kept fighting at the end, we probably had close to 18 shots in the third period and half a dozen scoring chances.”
“To have this kind of game and learn from it, then take it out on Saturday in their barn, and have a good game, I think we’ll be ready to go on Oct. 8,” Nashville d-man Mattias Ekholm said. “I think there’s room from improvement, but practice and all camp has been really good. We’ll keep getting better.”
Nashville opened the scoring in the contest after Austin Watson poke-checked the puck loose near the referee’s crease and then charged into the Columbus zone on a breakaway midway through the first period. The forward stretched to the backhand before tucking the puck in around Sergei Bobrovsky for a shorthanded marker that put Nashville up 1-0.
“I was lucky to get the puck past the [Blue Jackets defender],” Watson said of his steal and score. “I kind of got slashed just before the shot, but I was able to get the puck back on my stick and then put it in.”
Columbus answered back before the end of the opening 20 minutes expired thanks to a Ryan Johansen one timer from the high slot that beat Pekka Rinne.
The Blue Jackets netted the only two goals of the middle period via Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad, and extended their advantage to 5-1 in the third after a Scott Hartnell breakaway goal and another marker from Saad.
Making his preseason debut for the Predators, defenseman Barret Jackman aimed a shot on the Columbus cage from the blue line that trickled past Bobrovsky at 13:53 of the third to cut the Jackets’ lead to 5-2.
“Definitely with a new team, you like to play as many games as you can to figure out tendencies and get worked into the system,” Jackman said. “I think it felt good, it was a little weird my first couple shifts. You first touch the puck and get a couple bumps or somebody coming down on you that isn’t a teammate that can potentially run you through the boards, it was good to get out there and get the bumps and get the competitive juices flowing.”
Pekka Rinne played the first 32:27 of the contest and was replaced by Carter Hutton in the second period after allowing two goals on 14 shots.
Nashville will face Columbus again on Saturday at 6 p.m. CT at Nationwide Arena, the final preseason tilt for both clubs.
Infographic: Jackets Top Preds