Patric Hornqvist turned in a first-rate performance Thursday in his first full game as a member of the Nashville Predators’ top line.
The second-year forward scored twice in a span of 2:17 of the third period and rallied Nashville to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche before 14,797 at the Sommet Center.
It was the Predators’ second victory in as many games and lifted them to just the third 2-0 start in franchise history.
“A win’s a win for us,” captain Jason Arnott said. “Getting points early on is a real key for us, especially with the injuries we have right now. … We have some key guys out and all our guys in here are stepping up.”
Hornqvist, filling the spot normally reserved for J.P. Dumont, stuffed home the rebound of Ryan Suter shot with 7:29 to play and then redirected a Shea Weber shot past Colorado goalie Craig Anderson for the game-winner with 5:12 remaining.
The first of those goals came 91 seconds after Arnott had an apparent game-tying goal disallowed.
“We talked about it that after the second period – there’s times when things can throw you off,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… (Arnott’s) line really kicked it up and said, ‘Let’s go get it back.’ They seemed to be on a mission the next few shifts – and they were.”
Hornqvist’s scoring surge more than atoned for a goaltender interference penalty he committed earlier in the period. Colorado converted on the final second of that power play – its second goal of the night with the man-advantage – and took a 2-1 lead with 12:16 remaining.
“That was a bad penalty,” he said. “I didn’t see the goalie. I thought I was a little farther away, but I ran right into him. It was two minutes and they scored. I’m just happy I could get two goals and help get the win for the team.”
Arnott scored Nashville’s other goal, with secondary assist from Hornqvist, who has two goals and two assists in the first two games.
Suter had assists on both of Hornqvist’s goals.
“Starting out 2-0 – getting a big win on the road and then coming back and winning your home opener, that’s huge for our team,” goalie Dan Ellis, who made 22 saves, said. “… This year we have a lot of character and we’re playing strong.”
• Players said the temperature in the building was noticeably higher than usual, and that had a noticeable effect on the playing surface.
“It was really, really rough,” Arnott said. “It was tough playing on that, but the other team has to play on it too. … You have to fight through that.”
Despite the conditions, Nashville outshot Colorado 37-24, including 15-8 in the final period.
“It was hot out there, the ice wasn’t great, mentally it was like, ‘Holy cow, what’s going on here?’” Suter said.
* With Dumont and Jordin Tootoo out and Joel Ward still on Injured Reserve, forward Triston Grant was recalled prior to the game and made his first NHL appearance since 2006-06, when he played eight games with Philadelphia.
The 25-year-old played 8:52 and was called for Nashville’s first two penalties – both for interference. He had one shot on goal and was credited with three hits.
• Ellis won consecutive games for the first time in nearly a calendar year. The last time was when he won three straight, Nov. 11, 14 and 15, 2008.
He faced just 24 shots in this one, 16 fewer than in Dallas. His 22 saves included a big one against Matt Duchene with seven seconds to play in the second period.
“My goal is to play well when I’m in the net,” Ellis said.
• Arnott had six shots on goal in the second period and eight for the contest. He had seven shots last Saturday at Dallas, which means he has 15 in the two games thus far.