Road trippers continue to be a good luck charm for Preds…
- Updated: October 8, 2011
After Friday night’s game, several Nashville Predators players took to Twitter to voice their satisfaction for the fans who traveled to see their season opener in Columbus, Ohio.
“Great to see the fans coming out and supporting the team tonight in Columbus,” defenseman Jon Blum said. “Really inspires us to play harder.”
Brentwood, Tennessee native Blake Geoffrion echoed that sentiment by tweeting “Special thanks to all the Preds fans who bused up from Nashville.”
Finally, Jordin Tootoo added “Thanks the fans who bused up from Nashville!”
On Saturday night, the road trippers got their second dose of Predators hockey in as many days when they traveled from Columbus to St. Louis, Missouri to watch their second home opener of the 2011-12 season. Nashville would reward them for their journey, beating the Blues 4-2 and improving to 2-0-0 on the young season.
Pekka Rinne was impressive, making 31 saves en route to his 97th NHL win. He’s not only posted a .940 save percentage so far this year but he’s only allowed two goals in each of the first two games.
“He was outstanding,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “We know (how good) he is and now the rest of the world is finding out that he’s a good goaltender.”
After celebrating their season opener, Blues forward Patrick Berglund opened the scoring. The Predators were scrambling in their own end and even though Rinne made the initial stop, the rebound popped out and the Blues went into a frantic mini-cycle, eventually getting one by the Vezina Trophy finalist.
Rookie Craig Smith used the power play to answer for Nashville. With his second goal in as many games, the former Wisconsin Badger stood in front of the net and found a loose puck — after a Shea Weber shot — and slid it under Jaroslav Halak to tie the game.
Unlike last season, the power play has proved to be a success for the Preds. David Legwand bagged his first goal of the year with an intended-pass that caromed off of sophomore defenseman Nikita Nikitin‘s skate and in past Halak.
Later in the final frame, Cal O’Reilly hauled down T.J. Oshie in the neutral zone and took a two minute penalty for tripping. Just four seconds later, former Preds captain Jason Arnott would re-ignite the hometown crowd by slamming home a loose puck and tying the score at 2-2.
Kevin Klein answered less than a minute later, however, as the Predators regained the lead and never looked back.
“I thought the real key for us was, when they got it tied 2-2, we responded with a goal,” Trotz said.
Legwand would add an empty netter to make it 4-2 and seal the deal.
The Predators now have four days off before taking on the Phoenix Coyotes inside the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena. If also in attendance on Thursday, the 303 Mega Trip’pers will have seen 10% of the NHL’s home openers this year. That is quite a feat and not something many hockey fans can say.
Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.
* In the first intermission, Nashville C.O.O. Sean Henry stopped by section 121 to thank the road trippers for supporting the team on the road.
* Smith assisted on Legwand’s power play marker and on Klein’s goal. He now has four points in two games.
* Martin Erat was held out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.
* Legwand wore the “A” in Erat’s place.
* Despite Erat’s exclusion from the lineup, talented forward Niclas Bergfors was a healthy scratch for the second straight game.
* Zack Stortini made his Preds debut in tonight’s contest.
* Stortini dropped the gloves with Ryan Reaves early in the first period and it wasn’t a close fight. Reaves won the bout with a 10-8 decision from the 303 fight judge (i.e. me).
* Legwand factored in all of the Nashville goals tonight and, in doing so, is now tied for the league lead in scoring with five points (Phil Kessel, Thomas Vanek). NOTE: That stat is accurate at the time of this posting.
* Defenseman Jack Hillen has now taken a penalty in each game of the season and hasn’t looked anywhere near as “comfortable” as he did in the pre-season when he won a spot on the third defensive pairing.
* Each team won 34 of 68 face-offs.
* Patric Hornqvist led the Predators in shots with just three.
* The goal was the first game-winner of Klein’s NHL career.
* During the introductions, former Predator Scott Nichol got a nice ovation from the Preds fans in the crowd. The same could not be said when Arnott was introduced.
* In Predators media news, blogger AJ of Predators AJenda, took a puck to the face during pre-game warm-ups. He went to the hospital for stitches and did not return. He officially has an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover // section303.com