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P.K. Subban marks anniversary with big performance

Predators defenseman gets goal, two assists against Blues on date of first playoff appearance in 2010

by Arpon Basu @ArponBasu / LNH.com Senior Managing Editor

ST. LOUIS -- It was seven years earlier, to the day, that the NHL first got to know P.K. Subban, and appropriately enough it came in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He marked the anniversary the only way he knows how, by performing in the playoffs.

On April 26, 2010 Subban was a rookie who had played two regular-season games with the Montreal Canadiens, but an injury to defenseman Jaroslav Spacek thrust him into a crucial Game 6 of their first round series against the Washington Capitals.

All he did that night was get the primary assist on the game-winning goal by Mike Cammalleri in a 4-1 win that gave the Canadiens a chance to eliminate the top-seeded Capitals in Game 7.

Subban would go on to score eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 14 games, establishing his reputation before his NHL career had even gotten off the ground.

 

[RELATED: Complete Blues vs. Predators series coverage]

 

Now playing for the Nashville Predators after being traded by the Canadiens on June 29 for defenseman Shea Weber, Subban left the same impression in Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, scoring a goal and getting two assists in a 4-3 win at Scottrade Center.

It was his first playoff goal in a Nashville uniform and he became the first defenseman in Predators history to get three points in a postseason game, something Weber never did in 59 playoff games over his 11-year career in Nashville.

It was Subban at his best.

"I guess you could say that I started my career in the playoffs, so whenever I get back here I get a certain feeling that just makes the game fun and makes me want to elevate my game," Subban said. "It's not an easy thing to do, but let's face it; we can sugarcoat it, but that's why they pay me, you know? 

"It's to come up big in these games and perform."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Subban buries scorching one-timer

Every time Subban made an impact it came at a crucial time.

He had an assist on the Predators first goal when his one-time blast from the left faceoff circle hit forward Colin Wilson in front of the net and got behind Blues goaltender Jake Allen at 11:24 of the first period. At the time, the Predators had survived a Blues onslaught over the first half of the period, but a penalty to Blues defenseman Colton Parayko opened the door for Subban to swing the momentum.

On his goal, Subban made two tremendous plays at the blue line to maintain offensive zone possession before his slap shot from the point beat Allen clean at 2:22 of the second period.

It was moments after the game was delayed for about 15 minutes when Predators forward Kevin Fiala was injured and left the ice on a stretcher. It might have been an opportunity for the Blues to grab the momentum and tie the game. But it wasn't, because Subban scored.

Subban's second assist came just over four minutes after Parayko had drawn the Blues within a goal at 8:04, and again it was on the power play when Filip Forsberg swept in the rebound off his shot.

"He was strong tonight," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Defensively he was a horse, but offensively, I mean, guys are always searching for offense but tonight he was able to punch his number a couple of times. He made some terrific plays, a nice shot, just a real steady game."

The Predators acquired Subban to provide that offense, to do the things he did Wednesday, but not only on his goals. It is the general push toward the offensive zone that Subban provides that helps make the Predators so dangerous, and it's a big reason why they find themselves in the position they are.

But what's different for Subban now is he is only one of the weapons the Predators have on their back end. Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi form one defense pair, while Subban plays with Matthias Ekholm on another. Good luck deciding which one is the first and second.

Besides that, the Predators have a multitude of offensively gifted players up front. It is easy for Subban to get lost in that mix.

It is something he never had in his years in Montreal, where he was the focal point of opposing teams for years, and it is something Subban says he enjoys about playing in Nashville.

"When I came into this organization I wanted to come in and just do my job," Subban said. "I think sometimes a lot of people think I've always got to be the center of attention, but I was very happy to come in here and just be a part of this group because they already had a really good team."

Josi was told that Subban said he didn't need to be the center of attention and he burst out laughing, so maybe that part of Subban's personality remains the same.

But the point is Subban often is the center attention because he makes it impossible for him not to be by what he does on the ice, and Wednesday was another example of that.

The beauty of it for him is that he no longer has to be, and that makes the Predators a very formidable opponent.

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