The Nashville Predators got a huge two points as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a 3-2 score Sunday afternoon at Bridgestone Arena. There were several storylines coming into this game. It was Blake Geoffrion's first NHL home game, the Preds were coming in on a four game slide, and they were facing a Columbus team that was 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
The 1st period began with pushes from both teams, but nobody could put the puck in the net. Martin Erat stole the puck in the Columbus zone and had a 2 on 1 with Sergei Kostitsyn. Erat probably should have shot the puck, but instead tried a pass to Kostistyn that wasn't successful. The Preds and Blue Jackets would battle to a scoreless 1st period.
In the 2nd period, Shane O'Brien took a holding penalty 59 seconds into the period to join Ryan Suter in the box. Nashville killed off the Columbus 5 on 3 powerplay. At 7:25 of the 2nd period, Columbus got a goal waved off. R.J. Umberger drove to the net and put the puck right by Pekka Rinne's skate. Derek MacKenzie of the Blue Jackets and Colin Wilson both tried to grab the puck, and it looked like the puck had crossed the line, but the goal was waved off. After one of the longest reviews I've ever seen, the call was officially a no goal. There simply wasn't a camera angle that gave conclusive video evidence of the puck.
While the Preds may have dodged that bullet, Columbus would tally on the powerplay with 5:43 left in the 2nd period after a Shea Weber hooking penalty. Matt Calvert would went to the front of the net and picked up the rebound of an Umberger shot. The Jackets would have the 1-0 lead after the 2nd period.
The complexion of the game would change in the 3rd period. Shea Weber shot a puck that deflected into the net off of Jan Hejda's face to tie the game at one. In one of the best examples of a tough hockey player I've seen, Hejda would later return to the game. The Preds would take a 2-1 lead when Jonathon Blum scored his first NHL goal. After a David Legwand penalty, the Blue Jackets would tie the game at two on another powerplay goal. Shane O'Brien tried to clear the puck right down the middle of the ice, but Kris Russel stopped it and scored.
Things looked ominous for the Predators when Shea Weber took a tripping penalty with only minutes left in the game, but the Predators were able to kill it off. As Weber was coming out of the box, the puck came to him and he led the rush down the ice. He passed the puck to Martin Erat who one-timed the puck on net, and David Legwand scored on the rebound to give the Predators a 3-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Quotes from the game:
Robby: How big was that first goal to get the offense going?
Wilson: "It was good. I think, you know, we haven't had too much offense lately so I think that was a big goal by Webs, and a good bounce."
Robby: What can you take from this win as you go on the road trip this week?
Wilson: "Well, it's playoff hockey. A lot of games are going to be won and lost by one goal so we realize we have to be resilient, whether they go up or we go up, and play the same game."
Robby: How big is it for you to be a part of your first NHL win?
Geoffrion: "Yeah I mean that's huge, definitely, in a time like this in the middle of a playoff race. It's pretty tight. Huge goal by Leggy there at the end, and I'm just happy to be a part of it."
It was a privilege to be able to cover my first game on media row. A big thanks to Buddy Oakes, Ryan Porth, Amanda DiPaolo, and Jeremy K. Gover for all of their help tonight. The Predators will take on the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night! The Preds are currently in 9th place in the Western Conference. Each game gets bigger and bigger as the season goes along.