for this game

Legwand, Predators spoil Agnew's debut as Blue Jackets coach

Nov 16, 2006 - 2:39 AM
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- If he couldn't before, Gary Agnew now can feel Gerard Gallant's pain.

In his first game as Columbus Blue Jackets coach, Agnew watched his team allow goals to David Legwand and Scott Nichol midway through the third period en route to a 5-4 defeat to the Nashville Predators.

Agnew officially was named interim coach on Tuesday, one day after Gallant was fired after 1 1/2 seasons. Columbus had lost 10 of 15 games under Gallant this season and things did not get off to a much better start under Agnew, who served previously as a Blue Jackets assistant.

"We played solid 5-on-5 and we did the things we said we wanted to do," Agnew said. "For whatever reason tonight, we had some breakdowns in the defensive zone. That is what cost us the game."

Agnew, 46, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach in July after serving as the coach of the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch for the previous six seasons. He is the winningest and longest-serving coach in Crunch history after leading the club to a 200-177-43-40 record in 480 games, guiding the team to a franchise-record 102 points with a 47-25-5-3 mark in 2005-06.

"I have coached over 1,200 games throughout junior hockey and the minors," Agnew said. "I knew before the game I would have butterflies and I anticipated that. Once the puck dropped, it was me and the players and you coach the way you have coached before."

The score was tied at 2-2 after two periods before Legwand put Nashville ahead 3:49 into the final session. Rick Nash and Fredrik Modin scored 1:50 apart to regain the lead for Columbus, but the Predators took control with goals 31 seconds apart.

Legwand forged a 4-4 tie at 11:32 when he slipped a rebound under goaltender Pascal Leclaire. Nichol tallied shortly thereafter after Columbus defenseman Aaron Johnson turned over the puck to Jason Arnott, who set up Nichol for an easy tap-in goal.

"We got things going there with the third goal," Legwand said. "We fell behind 4-3. Then we got the tying goal, the fourth one, and were able to get a fifth goal to pull out the victory."

The squandered lead, especially in Agnew's debut, merely added to the frustration for Columbus, which has lost four of its last five games.

"We want to win every game," said Nash, who scored twice. "But it would have been nice to win for (Agnew) tonight."

"We have to win that and not give up the lead," Blue Jackets defenseman Adam Foote added. "Especially against a team like that. They do not give up too many. With eight minutes left, we give up the lead and we have to be stronger than that."

Goaltender Tomas Vokoun held his ground with the Predators shorthanded over the final 1:27, including the last 69 seconds when the Blue Jackets had a 6-on-4 advantage. He finished with 29 saves as Nashville improved to 8-3-1 on the road this season.

"It's a tribute to the guys in the room," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "They believe that you have to play 60 minutes. Every night you may not have your best effort, but you have to keep at it."

Paul Kariya finished with two assists and J.P. Dumont and Vernon Fiddler also scored for the Predators, who have won 11 of 13 since opening the season with three straight losses.

"We knew we were in for a tough game," Kariya said. "It's always a tough game playing here. They have a talented team. We're fortunate we got two points tonight."

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