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P.K. Subban savors goal in Predators debut

Defenseman says, 'I just didn't want to hurt my team'

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

NASHVILLE -- P.K. Subban scored a goal and had an assist in his preseason debut with the Nashville Predators, a 4-3 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Subban scored on a one-timer from the blue line on the power play to put the Predators up 2-1 at 5:56 of the second period. It was one of three power-play goals the Predators scored. Subban also had the secondary assist on a goal by Predators captain Mike Fisher in the first period.

"Coming into this game, I just didn't want to hurt my team," Subban said. "Just happy for the big win, obviously. It's the first game in our building this year, and even though it's exhibition games, it means a lot for us to get this win just for confidence and our guys. We were able to capitalize a couple of times on the power play, which builds confidence as well. I think everybody's feeling pretty good about themselves."

Subban, acquired June 29 in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens for Shea Weber, hadn't played in a game since March 10, so it took him some time to get used to the speed again. He also missed the first week of training camp with an upper-body injury and returned to the ice Friday.

"It's just a lot of rust," Subban said. "There [were] a couple of moments where the game was kind of a little faster for me. It's been like almost six months since I've been in a game, so it's a long time. I set myself back a little bit in training camp with missing the first couple days, but just tried to work as hard as I could to get in the best game shape coming in. Just tried to keep my game simple out there today."

The Predators relied on Subban to play in all situations. He finished with 22:18 of ice time, took two penalties and had nine shot attempts.

"For him, you've got to remember he missed I don't know how many days of camp, he missed quite a few days of camp," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "This was really his first action on the ice, and I thought as the game went on he got better and better. In the second period, he was really good just moving the puck and skating and delivering the puck to the net. He did an excellent job."

Subban started on a pair with Mattias Ekholm, who made his preseason debut after playing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 with Team Sweden. Ekholm could be Subban's defense partner on opening night of the regular season, Oct. 14 against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"He's a stud," Subban said of Ekholm. "You don't usually throw that around much with defensemen, but he played exceptional tonight. I mean nobody will talk about it, but the play at the end in front of the net to win the battle and then clear the puck with about 10 seconds left, big plays like that, he makes them every shift."

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