ashton-remaxThe P.K. Subban era of Nashville Predators hockey began in earnest on Saturday night as the defenseman had a goal and an assist in a 4-3 preaseason win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

After an early penalty leading to a Lightning power play goal, Subban settled in and showed exactly why the Predators traded for him back in June.

Subban’s goal came on the power play for the Predators, set up by a one-time pass from Mike Ribeiro. He got the puck at the left point and wired it through the pads of Ben Bishop. The goal gave the Predators an 2-1 early in the second period.

Having missed time at the start of training camp, and sat out the end of the 2015-16 regular season with the Montreal Canadiens due to a neck injury, this was his first game action in a long time.

“It was just a lot of rust,” Subban said. “There were a couple of moments where the game was kind of a little faster for me. I mean, it’s been like almost six months since I’ve been in a game, so it’s a long time.”

“I set myself back a little bit in training camp, missing the first couple days, but I just tried to work as hard as I could to get in the best game shape coming in and tried to keep my game simple out there today.”

Head coach Peter Laviolette said Subban made progress as the game went on.

“This is really his first action on the ice, and I thought as the game went on, he got better and better,” Laviolette said. “In the second period, he was really good, just moving the puck and skating and delivering the puck to the net. He did an excellent job.”

His first tally on the point sheet was a secondary assist on Mike Fisher’s power play goal late in the first period. Subban’s outlet pass sprung James Neal up the wing, who sent a pass to a wide-open Fisher in front for the score.

Throughout training camp, Laviolette has paired Subban with a number of defensemen, but mostly with Mattias Ekholm. He paired Ekholm with Subban for most of this game as well, but put Samuel Girard on the top pairing in the second period.

As it looks more and more likely that Subban and Ekholm will become a permanent pairing, the newcomer likes what he sees from Ekholm.

“He’s a stud,” Subban said. “You don’t usually throw that around much with defensemen, but he played exceptional tonight. I look forward to playing with him, and obviously, he’s a big part of our team.”

Laviolette also liked what he saw from the duo, but wasn’t ready to commit to set them in stone.

“I thought they were good,” he said. “I mean, we switched it in the second period and put Girard up with P.K. just to continue to look at things. Both of those guys can skate and make plays. It looked good to me, but it’s just game one. We’ll continue to look at things.”

Subban could have contributed even more to the score sheet, but his stick broke on two different one-time slapshots. He laughed it off after the game.

“It happens,” he said. “The game has changed a little bit, maybe I’m working out too much now.”

The Predators hit the ice again for one more home preseason game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, October 4. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 PM central.


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