After overcoming a 2-0 deficit in the final 25 minutes of regulation, the Predators allowed the Vegas Golden Knights to tie the game up in the final minute of the third and eventually fell in the shootout 4-3. Reilly Smith had the lone goal of the shootout for Vegas.
Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban made 41 stops on 44 Predators shots, but the Predators could not find a single goal in the shootout. Subban remains perfect in shootouts in his career.
Despite the high shot total and lower goal total, the Predators did not get too frustrated.
“You can’t get frustrated, and I didn’t sense that,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought our guys probably thought that we were going to score goals. I think there’s a lot of confidence that we can score in the room. Eventually, we did, and I think you’ve got to stay with it at that point.”
The Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead late in the second period thanks to a power-play tally by William Karlsson in the first an a James Neal goal in the second. However, the Predators responded, cutting the lead to one goal with a Calle Jarnkrok score late in the second period.
Despite being down at that point, the Predators had a plan and stuck to it.
“I think the main thing is, no matter what the score is, you’ve got to stick to the plan,” captain Roman Josi said on playing from behind. “You’ve got to keep playing the same way. If you’re trailing, you can’t go for all-or-nothing plays. We were down 2-1 and still had 20 minutes left to score a goal. I thought we played pretty well in the third and had a lot of pressure and got the tying goal. I think the main thing is just sticking to the systems and play the same way.”
Goals by Viktor Arvidsson and Nick Bonino put the Predators in front 3-2 in the third period, and they held that lead all the way into the final minute of regulation. With the extra attacker on the ice, Erik Haula was the beneficiary of a friendly bounce that let a shot get past goaltender Pekka Rinne to tie the game.
Despite being an expansion darling, the Golden Knights earned plenty of respect from the Predators.
“They’re good,” Josi said of the Golden Knights. “They play fast, a lot of fast players. They’re a good team, there’s a reason for them to be that high up in the standings. It’s not just a fluke.”
Austin Watson echoed Josi’s sentiments.
“You’re familiar with a lot of the guys, just not all grouped together on one team,” he said. “But, all you’ve got to do is take a look at the standings, take a look at some of the box scores and see that they’re a team that’s winning hockey games. They’re right up there in the Western Conference. It was a team that we knew we had to be ready for.”
As for the Battle of the Subbans that ensued between the Predators’ P.K. and Vegas’ Malcolm, the younger Subban got the last laugh for Vegas, stopping all six of Nashville’s shooters in the shootout. He also had a nifty pad save on his brother earlier in the game
Malcolm said it was a special moment for him and his family, which boasts three professional players, including defenseman Jordan Subban, who was just traded to the Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s pretty cool,” Malcolm said. “It’s a great experience being out there with my dad and my brother. I wish Jordan could be here too, because it would be like old times where we were skating on backyard rinks and stuff. It just brought back old memories, so it was pretty cool.”
Despite the losing effort, Laviolette was satisfied with his team’s outing on Friday.
“I thought they worked hard, I thought our guys worked hard too,” he said. “Like I said, I really liked our game. I liked the way we fought back. I thought we were doing a lot of good things. They picked up a lot of shots and some scoring chances late in the game with the power play and the extra attacker, but for the most part, I thought we played a pretty solid 60-minute game.”
The Predators will take a few days off before headed on a quick road trip to the Great White North, starting with Vancouver on Wednesday.