COLUMBUS, Ohio — Any time the Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets meet, the hate usually takes center stage.
It may have been the opening preseason game for both teams here Sunday at Nationwide Arena, but penalties and fists were flying starting with a hooking call on right wing Alexander Radulov 24 seconds into the game.
It was not a surprise that all four goals scored in the 3-1 Predators victory were by special teams. Center Scott Nichol and right wing Jed Ortmeyer each scored short-handed goals for the Predators at 1:02 and 2:03 of the second period. Defenseman Ville Koistinen added a power-play goal at 13:59 of the period.
The lone Columbus goal also was scored in the second period, a short-handed play.
Each team was called for nine penalties.
“We knew the game was going to be called tight,” Nichol said. “We went over the new rules with a video on hooking and holding before we left for the game.
“We have good penalty killers in here. Everyone stepped up and played well. Our penalty kill was really strong last year and that was one of the secrets to our success. It can win you hockey games. We really pride ourselves on that.”
Nichol saw signs of the grit and grinding style that the Predators plan to use this season.
“We are building our team around being hard to play against and being tough on the walls,” Nichol said. “Last year we were a little soft the last five minutes of the hockey game. We have to tighten it up and make smart plays.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz thought the commitment of the team was good, especially in the first two periods.
“We have lots of work to do in some areas of our game, but I was impressed with our ability to bend and not break and with the hardness of our team,” Trotz said. “
Trotz singled out defensemen Koistinen and Alex Henry as two of the better performers.
“Koistinen has a good skill set,” Trotz said. “He doesn’t panic under pressure. He makes good decisions.”
Henry earned a five-minute major for fighting in the second period when he tangled with Blue Jackets right wing Jared Boll.
Trotz also liked the line combination that included Ortmeyer and Jerred Smithson as well as the player of youngsters Patric Hornqvist and Antti Pihlstrom.