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Forsberg, Saros lead Predators to 3-1 win over Blue Jackets

Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period of an NHL hockey gam...
Nashville Predators defenseman Matt Benning (5) gets a stick to the nose as he collides with Columbus Blue Jackets center Liam Foudy (19) in the third...
Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin, left, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period of an NHL hockey g...
Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) in the secon...
Nashville Predators left wing Cole Smith (36) is introduced before the team's season-opening NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursda...
Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) is congratulated after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey gam...
Columbus Blue Jackets center Liam Foudy (19) and Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (90) battle for the puck in the first period of an NHL...
Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) battle for the puck in the first period ...

Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period of an NHL hockey gam...

Nashville Predators defenseman Matt Benning (5) gets a stick to the nose as he collides with Columbus Blue Jackets center Liam Foudy (19) in the third...

Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin, left, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second period of an NHL hockey g...

Nashville Predators center Luke Kunin (11) celebrates after scoring a goal against Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo (70) in the secon...

Nashville Predators left wing Cole Smith (36) is introduced before the team's season-opening NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursda...

Columbus Blue Jackets center Boone Jenner (38) is congratulated after scoring against the Nashville Predators in the first period of an NHL hockey gam...

Columbus Blue Jackets center Liam Foudy (19) and Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (90) battle for the puck in the first period of an NHL...

Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro (57) and Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand (28) battle for the puck in the first period ...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Filip Forsberg scored the tiebreaking goal at 5:48 of the third period to lead the Nashville Predators over the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 in their season opener Thursday night.

Luke Kunin and Calle Jarnkrok also scored for the Predators, who have won 11 of their last 14 home openers. Juuse Saros made 29 saves.

Boone Jenner had the goal for Columbus.

Early in the third, Nashville won a defensive-zone faceoff and Forsberg skated into the Columbus zone on the left side. From the left faceoff dot, he snapped a wrist shot by goalie Joonas Korpisalo on the short side.

Korpisalo finished with 32 saves.

Jenner scored the first goal at 9:24 of the opening period on a breakaway.

Former Predator Seth Jones cleared the puck from behind the Columbus net off the left half boards. Near center ice, the puck hopped over the stick of Nashville defenseman Dante Fabbro, sending Jenner in all alone on Saros. Jenner beat Saros high to the blocker side.

In his first game with the Predators, Kunin tied it at 13:09 of the second.

Kunin skated down the right side into the Columbus zone on a 2-on-1. Blue Jackets defenseman Michael Del Zotto sild to take away the passing lane, so Kunin fired a wrist shot high to Korpisalo’s far side.

Acquired from Minnesota in an Oct. 7 trade, Kunin missed the first couple of days of Nashville’s abbreviated training camp while working on a new contract with the Predators. The sides agreed to a two-year, $4.6 million deal last Wednesday.

Jarnkrok scored an empty-net goal with 1:33 remaining.

INCHING CLOSER

Forsberg’s goal was the 167th of his career in 459 games, all with Nashville. It moved him into second place on the club list. He trails only David Legwand, who scored 210 goals in 956 games with the Predators.

SOMETHING’S FISHY

Even though just a few of the 17,000-plus Bridgestone Arena seats were occupied by family, friends and first responders for the season opener, a catfish made its way onto the ice prior to the opening faceoff. A fan-tossed catfish, Nashville’s answer to the octopi thrown by Detroit Red Wings fans, has been a frequent sighting at Predators home games over the years. Thursday night’s catfish adhered to strict COVID-19 protocols and wore a blue surgical mask that fit snugly against its mouth and whiskers.

Among those in attendance were the “Nashville 6,” the six Metro Nashville Police officers who evacuated citizens from downtown residences prior to the early Christmas morning bombing on Nashville’s historic 2nd Avenue.

REUNITED AND IT FEELS SO GOOD … MAYBE

Nashville and Columbus are back in the same division due to the NHL’s realignment for this season. The Blue Jackets and Predators were Central Division foes from the time Columbus entered the NHL in 2000, two seasons after Nashville entered the league in 1998, until Columbus moved to the Eastern Conference when the league realigned for the 2013-14 season. The Predators are 60-20-1-7 all-time against Columbus.

WHAT’S NEXT

After a day off Friday, the teams square off again Saturday night to complete their two-game series.

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Updated : 2021-02-26 01:30 GMT+08:00