Sergei Kostitsyn assisted on the first three goals as the Nashville Predators opened the preseason with a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers in the first of two games Monday at Florida.
Kostitsyn, Nashville’s leading goal scorer in 2010-11, had two primary assists and one secondary assist — two on power-play goals — as the Predators built a 3-1 second-period lead. Florida tied it early in the third before Jani Lajunen, a 2008 draft pick, scored the game-winner with 3:11 to play and Kelsey Wilson added an insurance goal in the final minute.
Nashville fell 4-3 in the day’s second game, which included completely different rosters but another blown two-goal lead.
Colin Wilson (one goal, two assists) also had three points in the opener. Jonathon Blum had a goal and an assist and Jordin Tootoo added a pair of assists.
Nashville was limited to five shots in each of the first two periods and outshot 37-22 in the first contest with Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard, high draft picks in 2007 and 2008, respectively, in goal.
Defenseman Teemu Laakso gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 59 seconds into Game 2 when he scored unassisted. Ryan Thang, a 2007 draft choice, made it 2-0 at 4:21 of the first, but Florida tied it early in the second. Goalies Atte Engren and Anders Lindback each allowed two goals.
Blake Geoffrion put Nashville back in front when he scored with 3:27 remaining in the second period, but Florida scored twice in a span of 54 seconds of the third — the first by former Predator Mike Santorelli — and held on for the split.
Geoffrion finished with a goal and an assist, and Matt Halischuk added a pair of assists.
The Predators continue their preseason schedule against the Washington Capitals with a 6 p.m. game Tuesday at Baltimore.