Seth Jones showed why the Nashville Predators were so glad he fell to them in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Jones scored his first NHL goal and made a key defensive play late in the third period as the Predators edged the New York Islanders 3-2 on Saturday night. The 19-year-old defenseman, taken with the fourth selection in the draft, opened the scoring when beat Evgeni Nabokov for a power-play goal early in the second period.
Jones was left alone just inside the left circle and blasted a feed from David Legwand into the net.
"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."
Ryan Ellis' goal 3:23 into the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Ellis blasted a 60-foot slap shot that appeared to hit Nabokov's stick and went into the net.
"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."
Nabokov faced 31 shots, while the Islanders managed only 16 against Pekka Rinne. Jones helped his goaltender late in the third period when he knocked the puck away from Michael Grabner to prevent the speedy Islanders forward from going in alone.
New York, which got second-period goals by Frans Nielsen and John Tavares, hasn't won at Bridgestone Arena in its last six visits, dating to a 5-2 victory on April 11, 2002. That's also the last time the Islanders have beaten the Predators in regulation; Nashville is 11-3-2 all-time against the Islanders.
"It was one of those games, especially as an offensive player, where we really didn't feel like we had a whole lot of room," Tavares said. "Pucks were bouncing, and we couldn't seem to get it done when we needed to."
The Islanders, coming off a 3-2 road loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, generated just four shots on goal in the opening period and attempted only nine. But while the Predators had nine shots and 23 attempts, they managed few good scoring chances. Their best opportunity came at 13:45 when Nabokov robbed Craig Smith from the slot after a perfect passout from Matt Cullen left him wide-open.
Neither team had a power play in the opening 20 minutes, but Nashville capitalized after Casey Cizikas was called for boarding 15 seconds into the second period.
New York had managed all of five shots on goal through the midway point of the game, but coach Jack Capuano shook up his lines and the changes worked. Kyle Okposo, dropped temporarily to the second line, made a feed from the right half-wall to the slot to Nielsen, who wristed a shot that beat Rinne to the top far corner for his second of the season.
Okposo was instrumental in the go-ahead goal at 15:28. He controlled the puck in the Nashville zone, drove into the slot and dished to Tavares in the left circle. Tavares' pass attempt was blocked, but he grabbed the loose puck and banked a shot off Rinne's pad and into the net for his third of the season.
Nashville pulled even 52.8 seconds before intermission when Colin Wilson's pass sprung Hornqvist down the right wing in transition. Nabokov came out to cut down the angle, but Hornqvist fired before the goaltender could get set and scored his first of the season with a shot through the five-hole.
"We didn't get off to the start that we wanted," Capuano said. "We regrouped after the first, and I thought we picked our game up. We eliminated our turnovers, we started to play high-percentage, we started to do a lot of good things and got ourselves back in the game. But they got a big goal with under a minute left in the second period."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report