The main attraction on Saturday night was wearing No. 76 in Gold, and he didn't disappoint.
P.K. Subban scored a goal and added an assist in his Nashville preseason debut, as the Predators topped the Tampa Bay Lightning by a 4-3 final at a sold-out Bridgestone Arena. Preds Captain Mike Fisher was also among the goal scorers on the night as the victory moved Nashville to 2-1-1 in the preseason.
The Preds were pleased with the win, but the preseason is a time for learning and adjusting, and Head Coach Peter Laviolette and his staff continue to evaluate as the exhibition slate rolls along.
"More than anything, we're still looking at maybe a line, or pieces of a line, or a player when we're putting the lineup together right now, so that evaluation process is still going on, and it'll go on for the next two games as well," Laviolette said. "I also think we're just trying to get better at what we're doing out there… It's still not where we need to be as we move toward the first game of the year, but we still have lots of time, and give the guys a lot of credit for digging out after the first period."
Tampa Bay struck first on the power play, courtesy of a Nikita Nesterov shot from the point that found its way through traffic and past Marek Mazanec for a 1-0 lead.
Before the period was out, the Preds got a man advantage of their own, and James Neal found Fisher streaking to the net. The captain took the pass and buried a shot past the glove of Ben Bishop to even the score. Subban picked up a secondary assist on the goal, but he wasn't done.
On another Nashville power play in the second stanza, Subban took a feed from Mike Ribeiro at the left point and fired home a shot to make his Nashville debut a memorable one.
"Coming into this game I just didn't want to hurt my team," Subban said. "It's the first game in our building this year and even though it's exhibition, it means a lot for us to get this win, just for confidence and for our guys. We were able to capitalize a couple times on the power play, which builds confidence as well."
Video: P.K. Subban talks about his preseason debut
"This is really his first action on the ice, and I thought as the game went on, he got better and better," Laviolette said of Subban. "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."
The Preds got their third goal on a 5-on-3 opportunity, when Filip Forsberg found Ribeiro at the side of the cage for an easy tap-in marker and a two-goal lead. Valtteri Filppula got the Lightning back to within one with a power-play goal late in the second.
Tampa Bay tied things at 3-3 with a goal from Cory Conacher early in the third, but at 15:37 of the final frame, Neal found Cody Bass off a 2-on-1, and Bass beat Bishop for what proved to be the game winner.
"Let's be honest, he goes out in the second period and he gets some energy in this building [with a fight], and that's great for Cody," Laviolette said. "He did a good job killing penalties, he's a guy that we count on who's out there at the end of the game killing penalties, but for him to score a big goal like that too, sure it's good for him. It's training camp, he's a guy that we trust in those situations, and he scored a big goal at the right time."
It's good to get back out there," Fisher said. "Our crowd did a great job tonight, and our guys were excited. We started a little sluggish, but once we got our legs rolling, we were much better."
Video: Captain Mike Fisher talks about Nashville's 4-3 win
Earlier in the day, the Predators announced a two-year extension for Head Coach Peter Laviolette.
The Preds continue their preseason schedule on Tuesday night in Nashville when the Columbus Blue Jackets come to town. The club will finish the exhibition slate next Saturday in Tampa Bay.