The Nashville Predators began the 2015-16 season with a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena in front of a sell-out crowd on Thursday night.
Forward Craig Smith deflected a Ryan Ellis slap pass from near the halfwall to put the Preds up 1-0 early in the first period via power-play goal on the club’s first man-advantage opportunity of the campaign. Roughly 15 minutes later, 22-year-old Viktor Arvidsson deflected a point shot into the cage for his first career goal in the NHL.
Rinne helped Nashville preserve a 2-0 advantage until late in the final frame until Hurricanes Captain Eric Staal threw a puck into traffic from the right corner that bounced off a defender into the net.
“It sets the tone for the next short period of games and you know it’s a really big win for us,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “It’s always nice to win at home in front of your home fans. “
The Predators defense shut the door for the remaining 100 seconds of regulation to preserve their second-straight Opening Night win in the Peter Laviolette era.
“Of course it’s big,” Arvidsson said of the victory. “Now we can work from this, and I think we can play a little bit better, but we got the win and that’s what counts.”
Hey Rookie, Welcome to the NHL:
It’s been said that they don’t ask how, just how many. Viktor Arvidsson’s first career NHL goal wasn’t the prettiest of tallies, but it still counts. And it still feels just as good.
“It feels great to score goals,” Arvidsson said. “It’s always fun to score, but it feels good because it was the first one.”
The rookie’s marker came at 17:03 of the first period, courtesy of a shot from the point from defenseman Seth Jones. The puck got a piece of forward Calle Jarnkrok before tipping off of Arvidsson’s pants and behind Cam Ward for the second Nashville goal.
Tonight marked the seventh career game for the Swedish forward, and Head Coach Peter Laviolette continues to be impressed with the young skater.
“You work your whole life to get to the National Hockey League… and you’re able to score a big goal; that’s something he’ll remember for the rest of his life,” Laviolette said of Arvidsson. “This is a kid that works really hard, he worked hard last year, came over, learned the game, and in his first opportunity tonight he’s able to score a big goal for us.”
Gif of the Game:
Mike Fisher comes barreling behind the Canes net on the forecheck and crushes Nathan Gerbe in the trapezoid.
“He does all the little things, he goes to the hard areas, he plays hard, he plays the game the right way,” Captain Shea Weber said of Arvidsson. “It was good to see him get his first.”
The Predators have now sold out 13 consecutive regular season home games dating back to last season. Nashville is 4-1-1 in their last six season openers and 9-6-2 all-time in home openers.
Pekka Rinne is a single game shy of tying Tomas Vokoun (383) for first in franchise history in all-time games played by a goaltender.
The Preds host Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers in the inaugural edition of Golden Saturdays at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 10, a special 6 p.m. start.
From the Three Stars of the Game, to details on where each goal was scored from on the ice, check out the full version of this evening’s infographic.
Infographic: Opening Night Goes Right