Subban helps Predators beat rebuilding Rangers 3-2
NEW YORK (AP) — The Nashville Predators liked the way a lot of things went in their season opener, especially since they came away with a win.
P.K. Subban scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Predators held on to beat New York 3-2 Thursday night and spoil the regular-season debut of new Rangers coach David Quinn.
“I thought we played a pretty good game,” Subban said. “For our team, we’re at our best when we’re disciplined. At the end, I think we would’ve liked to shut it down a little sooner and quicker and a little easier, but we got it done.”
Subban fired a one-timer from beyond the inside edge of the right circle in front of the blue line at 3:28 of the final period to put Nashville ahead.
Filip Forsberg and Colton Sissons also scored and Pekka Rinne stopped 34 shots for the Predators, the reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners with 117 points last season.
“Every time you start the season, you always feel butterflies and you are a little nervous before the game,” Rinne said. “It was a good game for us. I thought we created a lot, starting in the first period. ... It was a good first game.”
Sissons’ long empty-netter with 1:24 left pushed Nashville’s lead to 3-1, before Pavel Buchnevich pulled the Rangers back within one with 35 seconds remaining.
“We did some good things,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “There are things that we could be better at. ... We were competitive and turned the puck over a little bit too much.”
Jesper Fast scored and Henrik Lundqvist had 30 saves for the rebuilding Rangers.
New York traded several stars at the trade deadline last winter in a youth movement and then missed the playoffs last spring for the first time in eight years. Quinn was hired from Boston University to replace the fired Alain Vigneault.
“I didn’t think we really played to the level that we’re looking for,” Quinn said. “Obviously, we are up against a team that’s one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, so it was certainly a great test. I just thought we were hesitant. I didn’t think we hounded the puck like we did in the preseason.”
After a scoreless first period, each team broke through in a fast-paced second in which the Rangers outshot the Predators 17-15. Both goalies made big stops to limit the other team to just one goal.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead on Forsberg’s wrist shot from the right slot into the top left corner at 3:54.
Fast tied it at 7:37 as he deflected Filip Chytil’s centering pass from behind the goal line on the left side.
Both teams had chances in the opening period.
Lundqvist denied Mattias Ekholm in close about 90 seconds in, stopped Ryan Johansen on a 2-on-1 break with 8:14 left, and then gloved Craig Smith’s hard wrist shot on a Nashville power play with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Rinne, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top goalie, stopped Buchnevich’s shot on a Rangers rush 6 1/2 minutes in, turned away a wraparound attempt by Zuccarello midway through the period, and then made a sprawling save on Zuccarello’s attempt in the closing seconds to keep it scoreless.
NOTES: Forsberg now has three goals and nine points in nine games against the Rangers. ... The Predators improved to 4-5-0 in season openers on the road. ... The teams conclude the season series Dec. 29 at Nashville. ... The Rangers fell to 8-5-1 in their last 14 openers. ... Fast is one point away from 100 in his career. ... Lundqvist became the ninth player in franchise history to appear in at least one regular season game in 14 different seasons with the Rangers, joining Rod Gilbert (18), Brian Leetch (17), Harry Howell (17), Ron Greschner (16), Jean Ratelle (16), Ott Heller (15), Walt Tkaczuk (14), and Mike Richter (14).
Predators: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Rangers: At Buffalo on Saturday night.
Follow Vin Cherwoo at www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP