The Nashville Predators kicked off the 2020-21 (technically just 2021) season by scoring three unanswered goals and beating the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
The Preds entered Opening Night with their most overhauled roster in recent memory, featuring six offseason acquisitions and one rookie- Cole Smith- making his NHL debut. The new guys seized their first day in gold, accounting for four of the eight points tallied by the home team.
As far as first periods have gone for the Preds in the past few seasons, last night's was no exception. It seemed to take them the first 20 minutes to completely find their footing, costing them a goal in the process. After Dante Fabbro attempted a costly poke check on a breaking-out Boone Jenner at center ice, the Blue Jackets took a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
For Columbus, however, that was all she wrote. The Preds' first goal of the season was created by the hands of three new guys; Mark Borowiecki dug the puck out of the end board behind Juuse Saros and got it to Erik Haula, who sauced it up and over the head of Matt Duchene to Luke Kunin, who rifled a shot above Joonas Korpisalo's shoulder and tied the game at one.
Filip Forsberg's lead-taking snipe goal in the third period was a product of none other than Brad Richardson's faceoff win in the defensive zone. The irony here was palpable- Richardson ended the Preds' season in August, scoring the overtime winner in Game 4 of the qualifying playoff round... with Forsberg about six feet away, staring down the barrel.
Calle Jarnkrok put the nail in Columbus' Game 1 coffin with an empty net goal late in the third, assisted by 2019-20 Norris Trophy winner Roman Josi.
Following the quick lapse early on, the Preds noticeably tightened up their defensive seams. 12 different Preds players recorded shot blocks, racking up a total of 20 by game's end; Borowiecki and Viktor Arvidsson blocked three apiece.
The Preds went 0 for 3 on the power play despite racking up 35 shots on goal. Roman Josi lead the team with six shots, Ryan Ellis took five, and Arvidsson took four.
Max Domi finished with a -1 rating in his first game with Columbus, while Cam Atkinson was the sole Blue Jacket to record a -2. Borowiecki, Richardson, and Matt Benning all finished the game with +2 ratings- another boast for the new guys.
Based on this season's new, realigned divisional play format, the Preds will face the Blue Jackets again tomorrow at Bridgestone Arena. It will be the second of eight games the teams will meet for during the regular season.