Kevin Klein posted a goal and an assist and rookie forward Ryan Jones netted a goal in Nashville's preseason opener, a 4-2 loss to the Atlanta Thrashers at Sommet Center on Thursday night.
Nashville's line of Rich Peverley, centering JP Dumont and Patric Hornqvist was solid despite being held off the score sheet, combining for 12 shots on goal and more than a half-dozen quality scoring chances. They nearly tied the game at the end of each period, including a tremendous save by Thrashers netminder Ondrej Pavelec with 3:08 left in the game to rob Hornqvist. Just a minute earlier Peverley rang a shot off the inside on the post. Earlier in the game, that line combined for three quality scoring chances in the final 38-seconds of the first period.
The Thrashers claimed an early 2-0 lead on goals by Garnet Exelby at the 4:32 mark and a deflection by Grant Stevenson 2:06 later. Exelby's shot came off a faceoff win with a heavy screen in front of Preds netminder Pekka Rinne. Stevenson's came on the power-play when he redirected Grant Lewis's shot from the right point.
Klein cut the deficit to one goal with a power-play marker of his own at the 18:33 mark of the opening frame. Klein took a feed from defensive partner Dan Hamhuis and rifled a shot from the left point for his first of the preseason. Vern Fiddler picked up the other assist on the play.
The teams traded second period scores with Junior Lessard getting credited for a fluke power-play goal 5:54 into the period when Lessard's centering attempt was accidentally redirected into the net by the Preds defenseman sliding out to take away the passing lane.
Ryan Jones made the score 3-2 with his first of the preseason (though he also added one goal in two rookie games earlier in the week). Mike Santorelli won the offensive zone faceoff back to Klein at the left point. Klein shuffled to the high center slot area and snapped a shot on net. Jones, set up at the top of goal crease, redirected the puck home with 5:10 remaining in the middle frame.
Nashville's penalty kill gave the Preds a chance to even the score late in the third period. The Predators killed off four third period penalties, including a two-man disadvantage for 1:29 midway through the frame.
Late in the period the team created a slew of scoring opportunities, but were unable to net the equalizer, including Peverley's post with 4:08 remaining and Hornqvist's chance with 3:08 left. The Thrashers closed the scoring at the 18:18 mark on Stevenson's second of the night, a punch-in off the rebound from Jim Slater's backhand attempt.
Pekka Rinne started in net for the Predators and stopped 16-of-19 shots through two periods of play. Mark Dekanich played the third period and turned aside eight of the nine shots he faced, including a sprawling highlight reel save on Atlanta's five-on-three power-play.
Post-Game Notes: The line of Peverley-Dumont-Hornqvist had 12 shots on goal, including Peverley's game-high of 7 ... Michael Ryan's 5 shots on goal were the second highest total in the game ... Ryan Jones, Andreas Thuresson, and Atlanta's Garnet Exelby tied for game honors with 3 hits each ... Kevin Klein skated a team-high 25:26 of ice time ... Dan Hamhuis and Teemu Laakso were the other two Preds with over 20:00 of ice time ... Goaltenders Chet Pickard (Tri-Cities, WHL) and Jeremy Smith (Plymouth, OHL) were re-assigned to their Junior teams today.