On a night of firsts, Predators top Thrashers 2-1

In the 4th preseason game of 2010-11, the Nashville Predators beat the Atlanta Thrashers by a final score of 2-1. Sergei Kostitsyn scored his first goal as a Predator, Shea Weber his first as team captain, Matthew Lombardi registered his first Nashville point, and the team scored on the power play for the first time all year.

More on the victory after the jump.

Early on, the Predators really put the pressure on Atlanta. They registered several shots near the beginning of the game, and scoring felt inevitable. It was. At 3:06 of the 1st, Sergei Kostitsyn beautifully redirected a Shea Weber point shot to put Nashville on the board and give Kostitsyn his first goal as a Predator. 

The rest of the period was pretty uneventful, but Barry Trotz's line combinations seemed to click well, particularly the top line of Colin Wilson, Matthew Lombardi, and Martin Erat. Wilson delivered a great feed to Lombardi, whose speed saw him in on goal only to be denied at the last instant by the right pad of Ondrej Pavelec

Jamie Lundmark's play was encouraging in the 1st period, and that'll be something to keep an eye on because Marcel Goc, Jerred Smithson, and Nick Spaling are all competing for that same 4th line center spot. Goc has his spot firmly locked up, but Smithson could see himself on the outside looking in without some revelatory performances. 

The second period provided a little more entertainment. The first penalty of the game was taken by Atlanta, and the Predators rolled out a power play which included Joel Ward and Kevin Klein. Klein provided an interesting wrinkle, and proved willing to shoot the puck which created a couple of good chances in front of the net. The man advantage came to nothing, though, and it left the Predators at 0-13 so far in the preseason. 

Atlanta's fourth line was causing problems all through the game, and it finally came back to haunt Nashville. Chris Thorburn found former Blackhawk Ben Eager going to the net, and Cody Franson failed to eliminate the chance which allowed Eager to slot the puck past Pekka Rinne to make it 1-1.

Much credit should go to the Thrashers, whose youngsters and veterans fought hard through the latter half of the game. They really dominated play in the third period until Zach Bogosian went into the box for holding the stick. Matthew Lombardi dropped a pass to Shea Weber at the point, and the captain promptly smoked a slap shot past Ondrej Pavelec for a 2-1 lead.

Despite the goal, Atlanta's chances kept coming - but once again, Pekka Rinne was up to the challenge. He swiped the puck right out of the crease late to keep Nashville ahead.

As the seconds ticked off the clock, Jerred Smithson headed down the wall to chip the puck into an empty net only to have Dustin Byfuglien completely level him. Smithson had to leave the ice, and Shea Weber was none too pleased with the (sensing a trend?) former Blackhawk's antics, immediately jumping into the scrum.

Afterwards, Joel Ward pretty much missed an empty net. Weber scored on it immediately after, but Ward was still offside by a large margin so the marker was nullified.

The Predators are now 2-2 in the preseason. Look for Anders Lindback or Mark Dekanich to be included in the squad for Wednesday night's game against the Thrashers in Atlanta.

Game Notes:

  • Kostitsyn was much more active tonight, moving his feet well offensively and defensively. With familiarity could come success for the much maligned Belorussian.
  • Matthew Lombardi's speed creates chances that before would never exist. Several times on the broadcast it sounded as if Lombardi made something of nothing.
  • Though it only converted once, you can tell the power play is undergoing some changes for the better. Barry Trotz has apparently added a play that does not involve Ryan Suter setting up Weber for a one-timer.
  • Tonight's lines were as follows: C. Wilson/Lombardi/Erat; Sullivan/O'Reilly/Hornqvist; Ward/Legwand/Kostitsyn; Smithson/Lundmark/Tootoo. Defensive pairings: Weber/Suter; Bouillon/Klein; Franson/Parent.
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