Ryan Suter had a goal and an assist, and Craig Smith scored in his NHL debut as the Nashville Predators opened the 2011-12 season with a 3-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday at Columbus.
Suter got the season’s first goal when he scored on the second of three Nashville power plays. He added an assist on Smith’s goal at 15:56 of the second period, which gave the Predators a 2-1 lead and put them ahead to stay,
Last season, it was mid-December before Suter recorded his first goal and multi-point game.
Matt Halischuk gave Nashville some much-needed insurance with a goal 39 seconds into the third period.
Columbus got back within one, 3-2, with 9:41 remaining when Rick Nash notched his line’s second goal of the contest.
Nash and Vinny Prospal each had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who outshot Nashville 34-31. Carter, acquired in an offseason trade with Philadelphia, led all players with six shots on goal.
Pekka Rinne made 34 saves and earned his 96th career victory overall and his 15th against Columbus — tied for his most against a single opponent. Rinne also has 15 wins against St. Louis, Nashville’s next opponent (7 p.m., Saturday).