Two nights following opening night for the NHL, the Nashville Predators began their season in electric fashion against the Chicago Blackhawks. In thrilling fashion, the faces of the team that needed to have a big game against their division rival stepped up when it was needed.
While the Predators fell behind 1-0 just 2:39 into the first period, that memory was quickly erased when P.K. Subban notched his first goal as a Nashville Predator while on the power play. Subban wound up from the point and powered the puck past Corey Crawford. In true Subban fashion, the celebration was as epic as the goal itself.
“I know [Carey] Price is going to be proud of me,” said a smiling Subban on his celebration. “I get fired up every now and then, and I’m just trying to express my emotions.”
The night was also excellent for new captain of the team, Mike Fisher. Fisher, logging 19:54 on the ice, registered a goal and an assist. His goal, also on the power play, was on a tip of a Roman Josi shot. Fisher contributed offensively and also took 25 faceoffs in the game, winning 15 of them.
One of players that flew under the radar to some was Ryan Johansen. On the night, he registered three assists, two of them being primary assists on the Subban and Josi goals. Johansen also had a stellar night in faceoffs, winning 12 of 17. With Johansen and Fisher being the top two centers for Nashville, they certainly answered the call Friday night.
“One game at a time,” said Johansen. “I was hyped for a reason. I feel like we have a great group of players in our room that come to work every day and put their best efforts forward. I think it’s been recognized in the league. Last year, we had a little bit of success in the league and it’s all about building off of that. It’s just a great way to start off here against the Hawks here. It wasn’t perfect, but we got the job done and we’ll get better.”
It could not have been a better opening night for the Predators to face the team who is arguably their most hated rival. The energy in the building was electric, and there was plenty of physical play between the two teams. This could easily be seen with Anthony Bitetto and Jordin Tootoo dropping the gloves. Five minutes later, James Neal and Jonathan Toews fought. Then, at 13:37 into the third period, P.K. Subban took a roughing call when he shoved Patrick Kane, who fell back and earned himself an embellishment call.
“We’ve said it all along that he’s a passionate person,” said Laviolette on Subban. “He’s passionate in life and passionate in the game. He had a terrific game.”
“Well they’re a great team over there,” said Subban on the physicality of the game. “They have some great players. You know my job when I’m out there is to not make it easy on them. As a player who likes time and space to make plays myself, I know how hard it is when guys are in your face every time you look up the ice, every time you turn, every time there’s a rebound.”
The two teams play again Saturday evening in what is the beginning of a season full of interesting schedule anomalies. Nashville will have to quickly put this win behind them and travel to Chicago and try to keep the Blackhawks winless on the season.