By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators played their fifth of six preseason games when they took on the Atlanta Thrashers Wednesday night at Phillips Arena.
Nashville switched around one line that was effective on Monday night against the Thrashers in Nashville. Sergei Kostitsyn lost his spot on a line with David Legwand and Joel Ward. J.P. Dumont took the Belarusian’s spot. Kostitsyn played on the fourth line with Marcel Goc and Jonas Andersson. Two lines remained intact. The top line of Matthew Lombardi centering Martin Erat and Colin Wilson played together again as did Cal O’Reilly centering Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan.
The battle was on for the 7th defensemen with Aaron Johnson and Alexander Sulzer as the only non regulars in the lineup on the blue line. Ryan Suter and Shea Weber remain paired together. Johnson played with Kevin Klein and Sulzer was paired with Cody Franson.
Atlanta’s best chance early on came from Alexander Burmistrov who had a break at 8 minutes into the game, but Anders Lindback was able to cut off the angle and smother the puck, stopping the 2010 first round pick from getting on the board.
Two minutes after Burmistrov’s scoring chance, Martin Erat put the Predators up 1-0 when his shot from the slot, eight feet inside the blue line, blasted past former predator Chris Mason. Fighting for a roster position, Aaron Johnson set up the goal. Colin Wilson had the secondary assist.
But the Thrashers tied up the game in the dying seconds of the first on a power play goal by Nigel Dawes with Erat in the penalty box for hooking.
During the second period of play, Nashville scored its second goal on the power play this preseason. Chris Thorburn was called for tripping at 6:52 of the period. At 8:09 of the middle frame, Ryan Suter’s wrist shot slipped by Chris Mason. Hornqvist and Erat picked up the assists on the goal.
Erat, already with a goal and an assist on the night, scored his second goal of the game, another power play goal, with Atlanta defenseman Zach Bogosian sitting in the box for slashing. Nashville’s 3-1 lead would be short lived when, 16 seconds later, on a delayed penalty, the Predators gave up what amounted to be their second shorthanded goal of the night, when Freddy Meyer made the game 3-2. Ben Eager tied the game at 3-3, three minutes later with 6 minutes left in the second period. Bogosian made up for taking a penalty when he picked up the puck from his own zone and skated it down the ice and found the open man, Eager.
Nashville would break the tie with just under 10 minutes left to play in the third period. David Legwand scored on Mason from right in front of the net as Nashville took a 4-3 lead. Aaron Johnson registered his second assist of the night.
Legwand’s goal stood as the game winner.
Additional Game Thoughts
Anders Lindback started in goal for Nashville. Predators fans expected to see Lindback and Mark Dekanich share time in goal, but Lindback played the full 60 minutes. After letting in two quick goals, and relinquishing a 3-1 lead in the second period, Coach Barry Trotz decided to see how Lindback would handle the pressure. It wasn’t a particularly strong third period, facing only 5 shots, but it has to be assumed Dekanich will be sent to Milwaukee. Coach Trotz has previously indicated he wanted to give Rinne two full games of preseason action. With Sunday in Washington being the last game for the Predators until the home opener October 9th, Rinne will go the distance in net.
Dare I say welcome to Smashville Mr. Lindback?
With 30 shots on goal, nearly half, 13 of those shots came from the blue line. Only four Predators failed to register a shot on goal. Aaron Johnson was the only defensemen to not get a shot on goal, but he did nail the puck off the pipes. Cal O’Reilly didn’t get a shot on goal, but he did have a good night in the faceoff circle, the best on both teams O’Reilly went 12-17, 71%.
Surprisingly, the other two Predators who did not register a shot on goal were Sergei Kostitsyn and J.P. Dumont. Both players had over 13 minutes of ice time.