When Seth Jones slipped past the first three picks in this year’s NHL draft, the Nashville Predators rushed to the podium to grab him at No. 4.
They earned their first reward on Saturday night.
Jones scored his first NHL goal, and the Predators edged the New York Islanders 3-2.
Nashville has won two of three. The Islanders were beaten for the third time in four games – including twice in two nights.
Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Ellis had the other Nashville goals. Frans Nielsen and John Tavares scored for New York.
Pekka Rinne needed to make only 14 saves for the win. Evgeni Nabokov stopped 28 shots in the loss.
After a scoreless opening period, Jones gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 1:03 of the second.
With Nashville on a power play, Shea Weber had the puck at the right point. Weber found David Legwand on the right boards, and Legwand slid a cross-ice pass to Jones at the top of the left circle. Jones took the puck and beat Nabokov on the short side with a slap shot.
”The seam was there for a couple of seconds, and I was hoping that Leggy saw me,” Jones said. ”He’s got good vision, so he did.”
The 19-year-old defenseman was put on the left side of Nashville’s top defensive pairing alongside Weber. He took that spot after Roman Josi sustained a concussion just over a week earlier in a game at Colorado.
Nielsen tied it at 12:39 of the second after Kyle Okposo found him with a pass as Nielsen came through the high slot unchecked. He snapped a wrist shot past Rinne.
Less than three minutes later, Tavares gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead when he banked in a shot from below the goal line off of Rinne’s right pad.
Hornqvist sent the teams into the second intermission tied at 2 after his shot from the right circle beat Nabokov with 53 seconds remaining in the period.
”It was a huge goal,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ”He sort of willed that puck in the net. You can say what you want; good goal, bad goal, whatever. I really believe that it was that extra effort that helped us get that goal.”
It was Hornqvist’s first of the season.
”That was a big goal for them, obviously, under a minute left to go in the second period,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
Ellis netted the winning goal 3:23 into the third when his slap shot from just inside the blue line on the right side beat Nabokov on the stick side.
”Just put the puck on net. I think that is what we have been doing lately, but we weren’t getting bounces,” Ellis said. ”Tonight we did get a few, and that’s what we need to win.”
The Islanders managed only five shots in the third. Right after Ellis’ goal, Nashville’s Matt Hendricks was assessed a double minor for high-sticking, giving New York a four-minute power play.
”We had a four-minute power play that didn’t generate much, which is not good enough,” Tavares said. ”We have to find a way to get better in those areas at those times in the game.”
NOTES: Nashville LW Viktor Stalberg made his season debut after missing the first four games because of a shoulder injury. After playing three seasons for the Chicago Blackhawks, Stalberg signed a four-year deal with Nashville in July. … Capuano coached in his 200th NHL game. … Tavares has a four-game point streak.