Subban, Neal lead Predators to 3-1 win over Senators
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Pekka Rinne's toughest test came 6 minutes into the game.
Nashville's goalie made a huge save early on, and James Neal and P.K. Subban each had a goal and an assist to lead the Predators over the Ottawa Senators 3-1 on Tuesday night.
Ryan Ellis also scored for Nashville, and Rinne stopped 33 shots. The Predators had lost their previous two games in shootouts.
Rinne's best save came at 5:59 of the first period. After defenseman Mattias Ekholm turned the puck over inside the Nashville zone, Ottawa's Bobby Ryan had an unchallenged shot from the slot that Rinne stopped to keep the game scoreless.
''Of course that gives you confidence,'' Rinne said. ''The crowd's response and everything like that, it's a big boost. That's one of those things that you just battle to make that save and once in a while, you get that save.''
It was one of 13 stops Rinne made in the opening period.
''I did everything right on it,'' Ryan said. ''You're supposed to raise the puck and go for the far side. He made an incredible save. So sometimes you tip your cap.''
Kyle Turris scored and Craig Anderson made 27 saves for Ottawa, which has lost consecutive games.
Nashville has defeated the Senators in five of the last six matchups.
Neal scored the game's first goal 46 seconds into the second. On a delayed penalty to the Senators, Subban carried the puck around the Ottawa zone. He passed to Roman Josi, who found Neal in the slot, where he fired a shot past Anderson.
''The first 10 games, to be honest with you, I don't think I've really been at my best,'' Subban said. ''I don't know why that is, but I'm just fluid and skating out there. This game, I just felt better and I felt I had my legs under me. When I feel that way, I can create and open up some space.''
Subban doubled the Nashville lead at 3:52 of the second on a slap shot from the right point through traffic. Subban had been held without a goal in his last seven games.
''P.K., I thought, was real good,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ''I thought he got the puck out of our end well. He got out of our end with speed sometimes and jumped into the offense. When we got to the offensive zone, I thought he did a good job of picking and choosing his spots to add offensively.''
Both of Subban's points came at even strength. Entering the game, five of his six points had come on the power play.
Ellis made it 3-0 at 2:23 of the third with a slap shot from the top of the right circle. The goal was his first of the season.
Turris ruined Rinne's shutout bid at 5:20 of the third with his team-leading sixth goal.
''They are a free-wheeling team,'' Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. ''They've got high-end skill and we didn't want to fall into their game, but we did. We tried to get it back after that and we hurt ourselves. We had a push in the third, but we couldn't get that second one there to keep that push going. We got away from how we play.''
NOTES: Nashville C Mike Fisher missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. … Predators LW Pontus Aberg made his NHL regular-season debut. He appeared in two playoff games for Nashville last season. … The Senators successfully killed off all three Nashville power plays. Ottawa has not allowed a power-play goal in its last seven games.
Senators: Travel to Buffalo on Wednesday.
Predators: Host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.