The Predators made their way back to the familiarity of Bridgestone Arena Tuesday night, welcoming in the Minnesota Wild for their season home opener. The Wild, who were 0-0-2 coming into the game, had a slightly better – and we mean slightly – chance compared to Nashville’s 0-2-0 record. But there’s just something about the home crowd that instills some confidence and Nashville definitely exuded the offering. Here are some of the highlights from Tuesday’s game:
- Leave it to Zach Parise to take the first strike, notching a tip-in past Pekka Rinne at 4:05 on the powerplay, brought on due to Seth Jones hi-sticking Mikko Koivu. Koivu and Ryan Suter picked up the assists.
- Youngster Filip Forsberg would retaliate at 5:07 with a powerplay goal of his own, sending a snapshot past Backstrom. Forsberg showed some rare emotion after his goal, understandably so considering it was his first career NHL goal. Patric Hornqvist picked up his second assist and rookie Seth Jones notched an assist; his first NHL career point.
- Less than 40 seconds later, Colin Wilson would capitalize on the powerplay with a wrister at 5:46. Matt Cullen (1) and Mike Fisher (2) picked up the assists on Wilson’s first goal of the season.
- Eric Nystrom would be awarded a penalty shot at 11:14 after being slashed by Keith Ballard from behind. After slamming into the goal, Nystrom actually injured goalie Niklas Backstrom, who left the game just before Nystrom’s penalty shot. Nystrom, who played with the Wild during the 2010-11 season, knew just where to send the puck around backup goalie, Josh Harding. Nailing the shot, the Preds then lead the Wild 3-1.
- The Wild would attempt to gain control at 7:26 with a powerplay wrister from Jared Spurgeon. Despite six penalties, Spurgeon was the only player to capitalize on said penalties in the second period.
- No goals were gained in the third, but there were a few penalties to be had.
- Zach Parise was called for holding against Patric Hornqvist, who in turn was called for embellishment (diving) on the penalty. Personally, we don’t believe you can call both at the same time, but you can’t reverse the call and it didn’t hurt Nashville any.
With their first win of the season under their belt, Nashville gained some much needed confidence and morale. Not that the Predators are deemed unworthy of a decent season, they are still technically in a rebuilding stage. Shea Weber just hasn’t found his paired connection since Suter left for the North, despite he and Josi doing well together. However, with Roman out with a concussion, he has now been paired with the youngster that is Seth Jones. We’ll be honest; the pairing looks good, but it needs some work. But we all know that, in order to be the best, you have to work towards greatness. There are no shortcuts.
The Predators welcome the 3-1-0 Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night to Smashville. This will be only the fifth time Toronto has played in Nashville and Jonathan Bernier has his eyes set on continuing his outstanding record against the Preds.