Carter and Prospal Impress in Blue Jackets Debut
It didn't take long for center Jeff Carter and line-mate Vinny Prospal to make their presence felt to a sell out 18,247 crowd in Nationwide Arena.
The Blue Jackets opened up at home last night to a 2-3 loss to the Nashville Predators, with Carter beginning his Blue Jackets career tallying two assists, earning him the second player of the game. It was more than just the two assists though, he showed dominance on the ice, commanded his line well, and showed Columbus he would not hesitate about throwing the puck to the net.
Carter was able to toss six shots on goal, one of which hit Nashville Predator goalie Pekka Rinne in the arm before trickling down his leg and being poked in by Vinny Prospal. Prospal also was able to contribute one goal and one assist in last night's loss.
It became clear very early that Prospal-Carter-Nash would be the go-to scoring line for the Blue Jackets this season. Most every shift they were able to dominate the Nashville defense and able to obtain high percentage scoring chances. Despite the loss, the team looked better than they have in recent years, and with the return of Wisniewski later this month, the Blue Jacket's could be playoff contenders come April.
Columbus Blue Jacket's Opening Night 10-7-2011
Photo Courtsey of Columbus Blue Jackets Facebook Page
Although Carter and Prospal impressed many in Columbus, OH Friday night, it was Nashville Predators' goalie Pekka Rinne who stole the show. Rinne racked up 29 saves on 31 shots, a few of which will be shown on the high light reels for the next week.
"Pekka Rinne was solid for 60 minutes,” Columbus coach Scott Arniel said. “We were throwing lots of rubber at him, and at the very end there we had some great chances. Both of our goals were guys plowing into the crease area and getting second and third whacks.
“I thought we played hard, but couldn’t find that third one.”
Columbus came out firing in the first period putting a total of 13 shots on goal; however, they got themselves into penalty trouble toward the end of the period. Prospal was called for interference at 19:34 in the first, Russell with delaying the game 2:35 into the second, and then Dorsett with closing the hand on the puck just at the 4:35 mark in the second period.
Nashville would capitalize just 50 seconds later scoring the first goal on the power play with a snapshot from defenceman Ryan Suter. The Blue Jackets were able to tie the game with the goal from Prospal, but the knot only lasted 97 seconds before Nashville's Craig Smith put a backhand shot past Mason.
The third period began with the Jackets pressing to tie the game, putting a flurry of shots on goal in the opening 30 seconds; however, Nashville was able to score on a quick break from Matt Halischuk at the 0:39 mark putting the Predator's up 3-1.
Nash would eventually get the game to 3-2 with a wrist shot mid-way through the third, but Rinne was able to blank the Jackets for the remainder of the game solidifying his first win of the season.
Columbus now moves on the road to St. Paul, MN to play the Minnesota Wild for their season opener later tonight while Nashville will fly out to St. Louis to play the Blues.
Follow Frank Leppar on Twitter @dugup46 for more Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins related news.