VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The way P.K. Subban sees it, he was due a little good fortune anyway.
The star defenseman scored two strange goals, including one from center ice, and the Nashville Predators routed the skidding Vancouver Canucks 7-1 on Wednesday night.
”I can think of a couple times this year where (on) more of an honest play, pucks should have went in and they didn’t,” Subban said. ”I’ll take it.”
Craig Smith had a goal and two assists, while Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala each added a goal and an assist. Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok provided the rest of the offense for Nashville (19-7-4), which got 25 saves from Pekka Rinne.
Ryan Johansen chipped in with two assists in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury as the Predators improved to 12-2-2 over their last 16 games.
”It was awesome,” Johansen said. ”The two-way game tonight, I thought was spectacular.”
Alexander Burmistrov scored for Vancouver (14-14-4). Anders Nilsson allowed all seven goals on 48 shots in the Canucks’ fourth straight regulation loss.
”When you get some goals that go in the net the way they did, it is going to take some confidence away from your group,” Vancouver coach Travis Green said. ”That’s human nature and that’s not easy to stop.”
The Predators stretched their lead to 3-0 at 3:05 of the second period when Subban grabbed a loose puck at his own blue line and fired a shot from the red line that appeared to be going wide, but instead deflected off Nilsson’s glove and in for his second goal of the night and sixth of the season.
Burmistrov knocked down a knee-high pass from Henrik Sedin – the 800th assist of his career – in the slot before chipping it past Rinne for his second at 5:01.
But then Nashville, which lost 5-3 to the Canucks at home on Nov. 30, restored its three-goal lead just 59 seconds later on a power play when Forsberg’s pass through the slot deflected off Vancouver forward Michael Chaput and past Nilsson for his 15th.
”It was not only hard for me, it was hard for the whole team,” Nilsson said. ”We didn’t have the bounces on our side.”
Smith made it 5-1 on a short-side shot into the top corner at 8:48 of the third for his 12th.
The Predators had a 2-on-0 rush moments later, but Scott Hartnell shot the puck just wide.
Nashville kept coming, with Fiala scoring his sixth at 11:57 – Nilsson broke his stick over the crossbar and tossed the handle into the netting behind his goal. Jarnkrok added his seventh just 40 seconds later to round out a three-goal outburst in 3:49.
”Disappointing the way we responded,” Sedin said. ”When it’s 5-1 we have to play with some pride, play for Anders.
”We gave up chance after chance.”
Canucks forward Jake Virtanen got his stick up while taking Predators defenseman Alexei Emelin hard into the boards on the next shift. Subban went after Virtanen right away in a scrum that resulted in the pair, along with Hartnell, getting assessed 10-minute misconducts.
”I wish I would have got my gloves off earlier, to be honest with you,” Subban said. ”He’s got to understand that when you do something like that, we’re going to jump in.”
The teams play again March 2 in Nashville.
”We’ll get our opportunity, for sure,” Subban said.
The Canucks, who have allowed five or more goals seven times this season, limped into the game minus two-thirds of their top line. Bo Horvat (broken ankle) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) are both out for an extended period, while Brandon Sutter and Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries.
Nashville opened the scoring 1:33 in on the first of several weird sequences. Canucks defenseman Michael Del Zotto had his clearing attempt cut off by Subban, who flubbed a quick one-timer toward the net that a screened Nilsson, who had dropped to his knees, never saw before it looped up and over his shoulder.
Subban’s fifth of the season also marked the fifth time Vancouver has allowed a goal on the opposition’s first shot.
Vancouver went on a power play later in the period, but Nashville broke the other way on a rare short-handed 2-on-0 rush, with Johansen feeding Arvidsson for his 11th at 14:38.
”They come pretty hard,” Nilsson said. ”Still, everyone, including myself, needs to play better.”
NOTES: Canucks defenseman Christopher Tame appeared to injure his leg in the third period and played just one 17-second shift the rest of the game. … Hartnell returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury. … Vancouver, which had a goal disallowed for offside late in the first, has been outscored 20-5 since Horvat’s injury.
Predators: Visit the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
Canucks: Continue a four-game homestand Friday against San Jose.
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