The Nashville Predators started the evening with a lot of questions.
Sixty minutes later they had answered many of them.
“We stayed in our system,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “The things that we preached during training camp like hard work and everybody pulling together were all reasons we were successful.
“We were determined we were going to play good defense and we created a lot of offense with our defense. If we play this way every night we are going to have the chance to win a lot of hockey games.”
They scored goals, including one on the power play, in a 4-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche in the regular season opener at the Sommet Center Thursday night.
“We got the power-play goal,” Trotz said. “We got goals off transition. We got goals because we had traffic in front of the net. We got mucking goals. That is how we are going to have to play if we are going to be successful.”
Goaltender Chris Mason stopped all 35 shots he faced, earning his first win and his first shutout of the season. Last season the Predators opened with three straight losses and finished with 110 points. Mason was excited about the outcome on all levels, but cautioned it is just one game.
“That was as good a game as I could have hoped for,” Mason said. “It was amazing. We did it as a team and that is our philosophy this year. We want to be there for each other.
“I wanted to get a good start. But it is only one game. I want to be there every game all season.”
While the offense was effective, most of the praise was heaped on the defensive effort. Mason, in particular, was grateful for the defensive play he saw in front of him.
“It is not just our defensemen,” Mason said. “It is our forwards being responsible in the offensive zone having a guy high so we don’t get any odd-man rushes. In the neutral zone it is all about angling guys out. If you are going to be strong defensively you have to do it as a team. And we got better as the game went on.”
The line of center Jason Arnott and wingers J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler demonstrated the offensive power they had shown so many times in preseason. Arnott finished with two goals and an assist, Dumont added one goal and also had an assist and Fiddler was credited with one assist.
Defenseman Dan Hamhuis scored the other goal.
“It was a solid team effort from the moment the puck was dropped,” Arnott said. “We hear a lot about us not scoring as many goals this year. We read that, but we know we have guys in here that can score. Everyone has to contribute every night.
“We got a few things rolling in preseason that have carried over into the regular season. Vernon is the new guy and he works so hard. He is underrated. A lot of guys don’t know how good he really is. I played with J.P most of last season so I knew what he could do.”
With 5:30 left in the third period Arnott went for the hat trick on a breakaway, but shot too soon.
“I was trying to make a move and the puck kept bouncing and bouncing on me,” Arnott said. “I figured I better try to get a shot off before I lost it completely. I guess I was too excited.”
Dumont, credited with the final goal of the game, admitted he never felt his stick deflect what at first was ruled a goal by defenseman Greg de Vries, who powered a shot from a few feet inside the blue line in the third period.
“I never felt the puck hit my stick,” Dumont said. “It was a pretty hard shot by de Vries. I wanted to try to tip it in. They tell me that the replay showed that I tipped it in. I’ll take it.”
The Predators return to action Saturday night when the Dallas Stars visit. Game time is 7. There are several thousand tickets still available.
WEBER IS WOBBLY: Defenseman Shea Weber left the game in the first period with a leg injury. He did not return to the game.
“Shea got tied up with Milan Hejduk on the half board about five minutes into the game,” Trotz said. “We will have to have him evaluated.”