Preds Raise Banner, Win Home Opener in Dramatic Fashion

New Preds banners to hang at Bridgestone Arena [Photo by Nashville Predators]

Well, that’s one way to do it.

After giving up five consecutive goals to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Nashville Predators scored three unanswered of their own to win their home opener by a 6-5 final at Bridgestone Arena.

Two power-play markers in the final 1:27 of regulation from Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg gave Nashville their first win of the young season, and after the Predators raised their Western Conference Championship banner to the rafters, it couldn’t have come on a more opportune occasion.

“It was exciting to see that the fans got what they paid for tonight,” Hartnell said. “It was a great start to the game; up 3-0. That game should be shut down at that point. Some sloppy play led to them taking over the game and you’re not going to come back like that against a lot of teams in this League, but we were able to do it tonight with some big power play goals at the end.”

“It was a huge game for us,” Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “Good start to the game, then let it slip a little bit, and then a huge comeback. I feel like we’ve done that many times, but it’s a pretty hard way to play. Emotionally and everything, it was a big win for us.”

Scott Hartnell said the day before Nashville’s home opener he was hoping to hear Tim McGraw a few times. He got his wish on six occasions.

Two of those goals came off of his very own stick – including one to tie the game at five – giving him three in his first three outings of the season. In what was something of comeback for the veteran forward, a second chance with his original team, saying he’s making the most of it thus far would be an understatement. And although it’s early, Hartnell has already shown exactly what he can bring to this club night after night.

“He’s been awesome, he really has,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Hartnell. “Tonight, he worked and worked. Took a bad penalty and he apologized for it right away, he knew it was a bad penalty. But you can’t question his heart or what he’s doing out here. He looked really good in training camp, he looks in shape and ready to play and wants to contribute and that’s exactly what I saw tonight.”

A full two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage isn’t necessarily considered in the game plan, but that’s exactly what the Predators got on Thursday night.

They took advantage when Hartnell deposited a rebound past Brian Elliott to knot the game at 5-5 late in regulation. But then, Flyers Head Coach Dave Hakstol challenged the play for offside.

If successful, the goal gets wiped out and the Flyers still have a chance. If the opposite occurs, not only is the game tied, but Philadelphia takes a delay of game penalty to keep Nashville on the 5-on-3.

Bet you can guess what happened.

Forsberg scored Nashville’s sixth and final goal moments later, giving the Preds two points and sending the Flyers home with nothing.

“We practice the 5-on-3 a lot, we just practiced it in the last practice yesterday,” Laviolette said. “We just ran through the motions. The six [players] is a bonus; getting the extra guy out there to help in the front of the net and help retrieve rebounds. I think our guys did a really good job.”

Defenseman Samuel Girard made his NHL debut on Tuesday night, skating in 18:52 of time on ice and looking like he belonged at this level throughout the evening. He also collected his first NHL point, a secondary assist on Filip Forsberg’s first goal of the third period.

He may only be 19 years of age, but Girard is already showing what he can do at this level. A few solo laps during warm-ups courtesy of his teammates as a rite of initiation set the tone, and from there came the first of what is likely many stellar outings in the years to come.

“He was very impressive and fun to watch,” Rinne said of Girard. “He played with a lot of confidence, and you couldn’t tell it was his first game the way he was very poised and the decisions he made. He looked guys off, spun around with the puck, and made good first passes. I’m very happy for him, I’m sure he was nervous, but he didn’t show it. I was very impressed.”

“He showed so much poise from start to finish,” Laviolette said of Girard. “I think there’s things he’s going to learn; the game becomes quicker, the defenses become quicker, and the guys you have to defend become quicker. But you have to give him a lot of credit because he showed up and played a pretty good game tonight.”

The Predators players gathered on one end of the ice, turned their heads skyward and reminisced about the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs one final time.

With the help of current Captain Roman Josi and former Captain Mike Fisher, the Western Conference Championship banner was revealed prior to Thursday’s home opener in Nashville, an emotional moment for the franchise, the first script of its kind to hang from the rafters.


Josi and forward Colton Sissons missed Tuesday’s game with lower-body injuries and both are considered day-to-day.

Kevin Fiala returned to the Nashville lineup after missing Saturday’s game in Pittsburgh with an upper-body injury.

Nashville has now won all four home openers under Head Coach Peter Laviolette and have now been victorious in eight of their last 11 home openers overall.

The Predators close out their two-game home stand on Thursday night against Dallas before heading to Chicago for their first meeting with the Blackhawks since last spring’s sweep; that meeting comes on Saturday.

Pete Weber’s Call of the final 2 goals