With five goals, including two from young forward Fiala, the Nashville Predators even their preseason record, beating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5 to 3.
It is just what the Nashville Predators needed. Early goals, strong defense, and solid net-minding is what fans were waiting to see. While there were moments of concern, the overall feeling after beating the Columbus Blue Jackets was relief.
What makes the result better is the fact young players showed their ability. Kevin Fiala notched two goals, while Miikka Salomaki continued his roster-making campaign. And Pontus Aberg final found the back of the net.
How it unfolded
The roster versus the Blue Jackets included Predators regulars Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith, and Colton Sissons in the front lines. This meant several roster-hopefuls would get a chance to prove their worth. And some did just that.
Midway through the first period, Forsberg broke through the Blue Jackets’ defense on a 2-on-1. His shot flung past Sergei Bobrovsky, giving the Predators a one goal to none lead. Salomaki then notched his third goal of the preseason. The Predators lead after 20-minutes for the first time.
Anders Lindback started in net for the Predators, facing 11 Blue Jacket shots in the first period. Nothing made it through. However, just over two-minutes into the second period, Cam Atkinson laced the puck through the posts. It was another power-play goal given up by the Predators.
Then came Kevin Fiala’s slick stick-work. Showing his creativity, Fiala moved through defenders and left the goalie guessing with a beautiful goal.
As the third period opened, the Blue Jackets fought back. With Juuse Saros now in net, Zach Werenski scored the Jacket’s second goal of the evening at the 2 minute 23 second mark of the third. The pace of play increased a bit, but the Predators were not to be out-done. With his first goal of the preseason, Aberg pushed the lead back to two goals. However, five minutes later, the Blue Jackets scored again.
In the end, the Predators defense was too much. Fiala added an empty-net goal, and the Predators won.
By the numbers
The Blue Jackets were aggressive with their shots, out-shooting the Predators 11 to 4 in the first period. They accumulated 33 shots on goal for the game, compared to the Predators’ 30 tries. Nashville’s defense blocked 17 shots, 13 more than Columbus.
Both teams finished the game converting on one of three power-play opportunities. And the Predators dominated face-offs, winning 61-percent of these chances.
The Nashville Predators conclude the preseason with two home games this week. On Thursday, they host Columbus, then Tampa Bay visits Bridgestone Arena on Saturday. Both games start at 7pm Central.