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Predators 3, Blue Jackets 2: The more things change, the more they stay the same

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With the Cellblock 303 crowd cheering their approval from high atop Nationwide Arena, the Nashville Predators took the season opener 3-2. Matt Halischuk netted the game-winner in the 3rd period, and the Preds held on despite a furious late charge by the Blue Jackets, led by their new top line of Vinny Prospal, Jeff Carter, and Rick Nash.

After the jump, we've got video highlights, reaction, and post-game stats...

First up, the video highlights:

Scattered thoughts on tonight's game:

  • Some of those lines really bug me. Putting Patric Hornqvist alongside Blake Geoffrion and Jerred Smithson sure doesn't seem like a way to support one of your top goal-scoring threats. With just 7:32 of ice time, Hornqvist got the least such action on the team (he did, however, get 3:07 on the PP).
  • I do, however, like Wilson-Legwand-Smith; that trio has real potential.
  • On the other side, Prospal-Carter-Nash should make for a dynamite line, the fans in Columbus are going to have some fun watching them this season.
  • The nice thing about that opening score? A nice quick shot by Ryan Suter off a slick pass. While the story had a happy ending, Sergei Kostitsyn was just a few feet in front of the goalie, with no other defenders between he and the net, and he threw a backhand pass across the slot. If Suter doesn't score there, folks would be cussing SK74 out for passing up the shooting opportunity. I'm already skeptical that he's going to really start shooting this year, and this play doesn't alleviate those concerns (15:25 of ice time, zero attempted shots).
  • It was nice to see Craig Smith jump on the loose puck remaining from Shea Weber's shot to tie the game, right after Columbus had tied it up. He showed great jump to get to that puck before Steve Mason could lie back and cover it up.
  • The tricky thing about forechecking is that 9 times out 10, the guy putting in the effort doesn't reap the immediate rewards, so it really takes a team-first guy to be effective there. In Matt Halischuk's case, he did cash in, as the turnover he helped create came right back to him after that nifty feed from Cal O'Reilly, allowing Halischuk to make it 3-1.
  • How about Suter fighting off Nash during that late penalty kill? He cleanly separated Nash from the puck, going right after the Columbus captain without any hesitation.
  • Post-game quotes are available from (each name is a link to their MP3): Columbus head coach Scott Arniel, Rick Nash, and Vinny Prospal.
Predators vs Blue Jackets boxscore
As for your advanced even-strength stats... how about those offensive numbers for the dynamic duo of Colin Wilson and Craig Smith? They made a nice play together in the third period that resulted in Smith ringing a shot off the post.

Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
David Legwand C 13:21 0 2 0 0 7 9 -2 14 23 -9
Sergei Kostitsyn L 12:44 0 0 0 0 9 7 +2 10 13 -3
Cal O'Reilly C 12:25 1 1 0 0 8 7 +1 12 13 -1
Matt Halischuk R 12:13 3 1 0 1 9 5 +4 12 16 -4
Craig Smith C 11:59 5 1 2 1 9 7 +2 16 17 -1
Jerred Smithson R 11:54 1 0 0 2 3 8 -5 4 19 -15
Colin Wilson C 11:54 1 0 0 0 7 7 0 15 18 -3
Jordin Tootoo R 11:42 0 0 0 0 9 7 +2 13 14 -1
Nick Spaling C 11:07 4 1 0 1 9 5 +4 10 11 -1
Martin Erat R 10:16 1 0 0 1 7 6 +1 8 9 -1
Blake Geoffrion C 8:15 1 0 0 0 2 3 -1 3 7 -4
Patric Hornqvist R 7:32 0 1 0 1 2 3 -1 3 7 -4
Shea Weber D 17:33 5 1 1 3 13 9 +4 18 23 -5
Jonathon Blum D 17:23 1 0 0 2 6 9 -3 11 19 -8
Ryan Suter D 17:22 1 0 0 3 14 11 +3 18 25 -7
Kevin Klein D 16:32 1 1 0 1 5 8 -3 9 18 -9
Jack Hillen D 11:38 1 0 1 1 8 7 +1 12 14 -2
Teemu Laakso D 11:15 1 0 0 0 8 7 +1 12 14 -2