The Nashville Predators made a late push, but it wasn't enough as they fell by a 4-3 final to the Boston Bruins as both clubs opened the 2017-18 regular season on Thursday night at TD Garden.
When analyzing reasons for the loss, a lack of speed throughout the evening was at the top of Nashville's list. The Preds managed to score twice within the final two minutes of regulation to make things interesting, but that didn't provide much solace to the group in their first game back after last season's run.
"Just the speed of our game, they were just a little faster on every puck and we just have to be faster and play with more speed," Captain Roman Josi said. "We didn't play well throughout the game, and they were definitely the better team."
"It's a good look in the mirror, I think," Nashville Head Coach Pete Laviolette said. "Good look in the mirror."
A 5-on-3 man advantage gave Boston an early lead on a goal from David Pastrnak, but the second half of the opening frame was controlled by Nashville. With 11 seconds remaining, Viktor Arvidsson turned a fired a shot from the slot that beat Tuukka Rask top shelf for a 1-1 score after 20 minutes.
Video: NSH@BOS: Arvidsson scores off turnover late in 1st
Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy each scored their first NHL goals in the second stanza for a 3-1 Boston advantage through two. Brad Marchand appeared to ice it with an empty-net tally at the 17:07 mark, but Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg each tallied on the power play to give the Preds life.
"It's definitely a good sign for the team that we had a push and got a couple goals," Josi said.
Video: NSH@BOS: Hartnell slams home a one-timer for PPG
Ultimately, the first opening-night loss in the Laviolette era for the Preds doesn't sit well, and with a date in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, there will be an extra boost of motivation after this one.
"The best part is there's another opportunity on the road on Saturday," Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, who made a number of stellar saves on the night, said. "We have a chance tomorrow to be with the boys, and I'm sure we're going to go through this game."
Video: Predators' rally falls short in 4-3 loss to Bruins
Nick Bonino made his Predators debut on Thursday night in Boston registering two shots in 16:04 of ice time. Bonino was activated to the Nashville roster prior to Thursday's game after missing the entire preseason due to injury.
Hartnell - who technically made his second career debut with the Preds - and Alexei Emelin also suited up for Nashville for the first time on Thursday.
Forward Pontus Aberg and defensemen Anthony Bitetto and Samuel Girard were scratched for the Preds on Thursday.
The Predators now head to Pittsburgh for a rematch of last season's Stanley Cup Final for a date with the Penguins on Saturday night. The club then returns to Nashville for their home opener and the unveiling of the Western Conference Championship banner on Tuesday night against Philadelphia at Bridgestone Arena.