Arnott scores two early goals as Preds, Mason get shutout win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Chris Mason showed he is ready to be the Nashville Predators' starting goalie.

Mason stopped 35 shots and Jason Arnott scored twice to lead the Predators to a 4-0 season-opening victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

"I really wanted to make a statement and hopefully I did that," said Mason, who was given the No. 1 goaltending spot after Tomas Vokoun was traded to Florida in the offseason. "Getting a shutout was as good as I could have hoped for. But this is only one game. I want to show everyone that I can do this throughout the season."

The line of Arnott, J.P Dumont and Vernon Fiddler accounted for three goals and three assists. Arnott also had an assist, Dumont had a goal and an assist and Fiddler added one assist.

"We got a few things rolling in preseason and it has carried over into the regular season," Arnott said. "I played with J.P last year so I move extremely well with him. Fiddler is the new guy and works so hard out there. A lot of people don't know how skilled he is."

Both Arnott and Mason gave credit to the play of the team for the opening night success. Arnott admits he and his teammates have read all of the stories about how this edition of the Predators isn't going to be as good as last season's.

"We have read that our team is not going to score as many goals as last season," Arnott said. "We know we have guys in this team who can score. But it is a combination of everybody having to contribute."

For the first goal, Marek Zidlicky passed the puck from the right side, catching Arnott above the circle on the power play. Arnott sent a one-timer that beat Colorado goalie Peter Budaj between his pads at 4:31 of the first.

Nearly 10 minutes later, Arnott struck from close range. J.P. Dumont passed the puck from the right side in front of the crease as Arnott skated in from the left, firing the puck into the wide side of the net as Budaj moved out of position to the right.

"It was a fast-paced game in the first period," Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said. "There were a lot of opportunities on both ends. Nashville scored the type of goals that they generally do. They get it back to the point and blast away into traffic."

In the second period, Nashville made it 3-0 as Dan Hamhuis beat Budaj low to his stick side from the middle of the left circle.

At 4:41 of the third period, Greg de Vries fired a one-timer from just inside the blue line. Dumont tipped it past Budaj high to his glove side.

"We got our goals," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We got a goal on the power play. We got goals in transition. We got mucking goals. We got goals because we had traffic in front of the net. That's how we are going to have to play if we are going to be successful."

Budaj was replaced after the last goal by Tyler Weiman. Budaj faced 22 shots and made 18 saves.

"I wanted to get Tyler into the game to see how he would handle it," Quenneville said. "I thought he did a great job in net and handled the challenge well. At that time it was 4-0, so it was an easy call."

The Predators' future is in doubt as a potential local ownership group continues to negotiate with Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Sports Authority. Despite the drive for season ticket sales, there were several empty seats in the lower bowl. Attendance was 777 short of a sellout.

Game notes
Arnott earned the 699th and 700th points of his career. ... Predators owner Craig Leipold, who is still trying to sell the team, spent part of the game in Section 303 where he has purchased season tickets. ... Nashville's Shea Weber left in the first period with a leg injury and did not return. ... The Predators are 3-5-1 in home openers.