NASHVILLE, Tenn. – All those off-season moves paid off quickly for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Derick Brassard scored in the sixth round of the NHL’s first shootout this season, and the Blue Jackets beat the Nashville Predators 3-2 Saturday night for their fifth win in an opener along with a rare win over their Central Division foe.
“It’s a great feeling to win here, especially when in the past we have struggled here, but what a great challenge for us to come here with some new faces already tonight all of our new guys made the difference,” Brassard said of a Columbus team featuring five new players.
Columbus had not won an opener since Oct. 3, 2009, against Minnesota, and the Blue Jackets had won only once in Nashville in the previous 20 games.
But this team also features two new assistant coaches and a new president of hockey operations in John Davidson.
The Blue Jackets hadn’t beaten Nashville in regulation since April 3, 2006, with 17 games with the Predators going to overtime or shootouts.
“The guys should be real proud of the way that they played,” Columbus coach Todd Richards said. “Tough building. Tough situation.”
Artem Anisimov, acquired in the trade that sent Rick Nash to the Rangers, scored on a backhand over Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne in the second round of the shootout.
David Legwand scored on a backhand in the third round to tie it up and extend the shootout. That was it before Brassard scored under Rinne’s glove hand.
Colin Wilson had a chance to tie it up. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, another Columbus newcomer via a trade with the Flyers, got his right foot out for the save and the win.
Anisimov also had a goal in regulation, and another newcomer Nick Foligno scored a goal for Columbus.
Martin Erat and Ryan Ellis each scored goals for the Predators, and Sergei Kostitsyn had two assists. Nashville snapped a streak of three straight season-opening wins despite outshooting the Blue Jackets 34-28.
“We didn’t have any exhibitions,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “I know it’s going to be a roller coaster ride, and it sort of was today. You thought you got your group sorted back together and then you’re going through spells of the other team has the pressure on. That’s part of the 48-game season.”
Nashville sold this opener out in just three days, and team officials threw a party outside before shifting inside where singer Michael W. Smith handled the national anthem.
They even had actor Charles Esten, who plays Deacon on the TV show “Nashville,” sing “The Boys Are Back” with the house band at the first intermission.
The Predators took care of providing excitement on the ice as Erat, a new assistant captain with Ryan Suter now in Minnesota, scoring 39 seconds into the game. That easily fired up the sold-out crowd.
Rinne, who played some in the Kontinental Hockey League, only allowed a power-play goal by Foligno, who tipped in a slap shot by Fedor Tyutin right in front of the goalie at 16:08.
“We were able to overcome all the adversity we’ve had and anytime you do that, you’re going to give yourself a good chance to win and we did that to night,” Foligno said.
But Ellis put Nashville back up 2-1 with a power-play goal at 17:55.
In the second period, Nashville captain Shea Weber fought Jared Boll after Weber’s teammate, Smith, was checked too hard.
Weber, who had a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet from Philadelphia matched by Nashville before the lockout, wound up with his first fighting major since the 2009-10 season and seven minutes in the penalty box along with a big cheer from the home fans. He said Smith got hit “pretty good.”
“A little bit of timing was off, and guys on both sides were swinging away and not manning up I guess you can say, maybe used to summer hockey a little bit,” Weber said. “But that will come and, and in a hurry I think it’s going to get a lot better.
Columbus tied it up when Anisimov got a pass from Tyutin at the blue line and held off Nashville centre Paul Gaustad before he beat Rinne with a backhand at 12:05 of the second. That was all the scoring until the shootout.
Richards started Bobrovsky at goalie because the Russian also played in the KHL during the lockout and had four shutouts. Bobrovsky had 32 saves through overtime in giving Columbus a chance a rare season-opening win. He stopped Nick Spaling with a pad save 4:08 into overtime off a slap shot from Nashville defenceman Roman Josi.
In the shootout, Bobrovsky stopped Erat with a pad save. Mike Fisher was wide, and Bobrovsky made saves on Ellis and Colin Wilson and finally Smith for the win.
Notes: Legwand scored the fastest goal in Predators’ history, just 11 seconds into the game April 5, 2007, against St. Louis. … Ellis scored two of his three goals last season with the man advantage. … Nashville had the NHL’s best percentage on the power play last season. … Kostitsyn had nine multi-point games last season. Weber also had a fighting major in Game 2 of the opening round of the playoffs against Detroit.