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GAME REVIEW: Preds v. Blue Jackets – 09.19.09

The Nashville Predators will have plenty of tape to watch tomorrow morning.

Both of the positive and negative variety.

Improving their pre-season record to 3-0, Nashville beat Columbus 3-2 at the Sommet Center on Saturday night in front of just over 10,000 fans. Those fans, however, found the home team in a game that looked a lot different on the ice then it did on the score sheet, but it took a single power play to send the fans home happy.

The first and last man advantage opportunities went really well for the Nashville. Good pressure, meaningful shots on goal and, of course, the game-winning tally. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot else to celebrate about the Predators power play tonight. Excluding the last man advantage, the Preds went 0-for-5 and looked completely out of sorts.

The game winning goal by Shea Weber, his second of the pre-season, was the difference maker so, on paper, the power play may appear to have been a success. When the stat sheet reads “1 goal” and “11 shots” on six power plays, it’s hard to argue with the term “success.” However, for those who witnessed it, Nashville was guilty of the same things they’ve been guilty of year after year: lots of cycling, an over abundance of passing and not enough consistent offensive zone pressure. There was just enough offense on two of the six power plays to create the illusion that the power play was strong tonight.

Steve Sullivan left the game with a minor groin injury towards the end of the first period, which freed up a spot on the top line. Nick Spaling ended up taking his place and played admirably.

“It was great to get an opportunity to play with guys like that,” said Spaling. “They make it really easy to play with them. It was great getting that chance.”

Spaling ended the night with no points and an even rating but did more than his empty stat line suggests. Playing on the top line with Jason Arnott and JP Dumont – and also finding himself on a line with Ryan Jones and Joel Ward at times – Spaling amassed four shots and logged some important special team minutes on both the power play and the penalty kill.

“I’m more of a hard worker,” Spaling said. “I like to contribute that way. Making plays and getting the puck to the net.”

Weber not only scored the game winning goal, but was also credited with seven shots on goal, two takeaways and a blocked shot. His minus-1 rating leaves something to be desired but one would think he’ll take the negative rating given the fact that his team won and he had a pretty impressive stat line otherwise.

Including Weber’s seven and Spaling’s four, the Preds finished with a whopping 40 shots on goal while only surrendering 16. A very lopsided total in a game who’s final score suggests otherwise. Once again, on paper, it seems like a great all around effort by the Preds, but, in actuality, there were lots of room for improvement.

But, then again, that’s what the pre-season is for.

* Arnott and Dumont both led the Predators in points (2) and Weber, Arnott and Ryan Jones each netted a goal.
* Sullivan’s groin injury is so minor that Head Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t think he’ll miss much time, if any, at all.
* The defensive pairing of Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein led the way with a plus-2 rating while Ben Guite had the team low with a minus-2.
* Columbus winger Tommy Sestito was sent to the hospital after a fight with Jordin Tootoo. The back of his head hit the ice on the way down and the officials were immediately calling for the trainers. He was coherent but taken to the hospital for precautionary measures.
* Weber led all skaters with seven shots on goal and 26:29 of ice time.
* The Blue Jackets fell to 0-2-1 in the pre-season.