David Legwand had two goals and an assist and the Predators beat Columbus 5-4 Wednesday night to ruin Gary Agnew’s first NHL game as coach of the Blue Jackets. “We didn’t know what to expect coming in here with the coaching change,” said Legwand of his Predators, winners in seven of eight. “We knew they were going to come out fired up and pretty excited so we had to deal with that, too.”
Agnew replaced Gerard Gallant, who was fired Monday, one day after a shutout loss dropped the NHL’s lowest-scoring team into last place in the Central Division.
“I knew there would be butterflies during the national anthem,” said Agnew, who joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant in the offseason after coaching their top affiliate for six seasons.
J.P. Dumont, Vernon Fiddler – a short-handed goal – and Scott Nichol also scored for Nashville, which has won eight of nine road games. Paul Kariya added two assists.
Rick Nash scored twice and Fredrik Modin had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has lost four of five. Jason Chimera also scored for the Blue Jackets.
Down 3-2 early in the third period, Nash and Modin scored twice in a 1:50 span to make it 4-3 at 9:12.
“We played a sound team and found a way to get a lead,” Columbus captain Adam Foote said. “We battled hard. We just can’t lose that lead.”
Legwand and Nichol quickly countered with goals 31 seconds apart just past the midway point to give the Predators a 5-4 lead.
“It’s a tribute to the guys in the room,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “The guys believe in playing a whole 60 minutes.”
Legwand stuffed in his own rebound at 11:32 to tie it at 4.
After Columbus defenceman Aaron Johnson turned the puck over deep in his own end, Nichol put the puck past goaltender Pascal Leclaire at 12:03.
“We had some D-zone breakdowns, and that’s what cost us the game,” Agnew said.
Nash made it 3-3 after taking a pass from Rostislav Klesla down the right wing and snapping a shot from the circle past Tomas Vokoun at 7:22.
On a similar play, Nash came out of the corner and centred a pass to Modin for a one-timer that gave Columbus a 4-3 advantage.
The Blue Jackets pressured right out of the gate, but Nashville scored first. Positioned in the slot, Dumont redirected Kimmo Timonen’s point shot for a power-play goal at 5:21 of the opening period.
Manny Malhotra slid a centring pass to Chimera, who snapped a high shot from the right circle past Vokoun at 16:06. The goal was Chimera’s first of the season in 16 games.
“I liked what we did in the offensive zone, I liked what we did in the neutral zone, but I didn’t really like what we did in the defensive zone,” Trotz said.
Notes: The game was the first of three in six days between the divisional rivals. … Since the start of the 2000-01 season, the Blue Jackets have had four coaches. Only five teams (Florida, Anaheim, Boston, Montreal and New Jersey) have had more during that span. … Nashville is 8-2 in one-goal games. … Columbus entered having allowed four short-handed goals, second most in the league.