Veterans Push Preds to Preseason Win Over Jets

Nashville defeats Winnipeg 4-3 to win its preseason home opener.

The Predators defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-3 in their preseason home opener. (Sarah Fuqua)

On a night which a new season was christened with new jerseys and some new faces, it was a group of familiar faces that led the Predators to a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in the first preseason home game of the 2011-12 season.

Chet Pickard started in goal for Nashville, while former Predator Chris Mason tended Winnipeg’s nets. In his first 20 minutes of play, Pickard allowed two goals on 9 Winnipeg shots. The first goal, scored at 5:48 by Spencer Machacek, came after Pickard gave up a series of rebounds. The second, scored at 10:27 by Paul Postma, came on a weak shot from the point that somehow found its way into the back of the net. Pickard was replaced by Pekka Rinne at the beginning of the second period.

The Predators stormed back in the second period with Jordin Tootoo scoring a “hard-working” goal at 4:50. Winnipeg answered at 6:54 with a power play goal by defenseman Derek Meech which beat Rinne after it appeared to go off of a referee’s leg.

Winnipeg’s Evander Kane tripped Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm in the corner near Nashville’s goal at 7:18 of the second period. In the ensuing power play, Sergei Kostitsyn buried a goal that originally appeared to be touched by Martin Erat to bring the Predators back within a goal.

At 11:31, Nashville’s Zack Stortini checked Winnipeg’s Troy Brodie hard into the boards behind Winnipeg’s net. Brodie then pursued Stortini, essentially body-slamming him to the ice. Stortini did not retailiate, resulting in a double-minor for roughing on Winnipeg and no penalty on Nashville.

“It was a situation where we needed a power play,” Stortini said, “and I was fortunate enough to draw one.”

“I tried to get him to fight,” Brodie said, “but he wasn’t obliging. It was a little too late at that point.”

“He held some restraint there,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “You don’t always have to fight that. That was a moment that he knew that he was drawing a penalty for us and really got to change the game.”

“He’s a good role player,” Trotz added.

In the ensuing four minutes, Nashville managed to strike twice and take the lead. The first power play goal came from Martin Erat at 12:30. The second was a Patric Hornqvist tip-in from Colin Wilson at 13:50.

A scary moment occurred at 14:24 of the second period when a bleeding Pekka Rinne had to be replaced by Pickard. Rinne had a cut on his face and was held out for the remainder of the game. Pickard held the Jets scoreless for the remaining 25:36.

Newcomer Stortini made his presence felt early in the game as he mixed it up at 2:50 of the first period with Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn. In addition to the two players’ 5-minute majors, Thorburn was given a 2-minute minor for interference. Nashville, however, was unable to get a shot off in that initial power play.

Quick Hits
  • Every Nashville point was scored by a player with at least a season in Nashville under their belt.
  • Nashville finished the night with 22 shots to Winnipeg’s 30.
  • Nashville finished 3-for-4 on the power play while Winnipeg finished 2-for-5.
  • Pickard was sent down to Milwaukee following the game, as were Atte Engren, Taylor Beck, Ryan Flynn, Michael Latta, Jani Lajunen, Juuso Puustinen, Josh Shalla, Robert Slaney, Taylor Aronson, Victor Bartley, and Charles Olivier-Roussel. Mark Van Guilder, Scott Ford, Jeff Foss, Scott Valentine and Joel Champagne were all released from their tryout agreements, but will be in the Admirals training camp on Monday, as most are already under contract to Milwaukee.
  • Zack Stortini drew 6 minutes in penalties.
PuckScene.com’s Three Stars:
  1. Martin Erat, Nashville
  2. Ryan Suter, Nashville
  3. Zack Stortini, Nashville
Official Three Stars:
  1. Shea Weber, Nashville
  2. Ryan Suter, Nashville
  3. Patric Hornqvist, Nashville

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A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.