Nashville Predators’ fans had plenty of opportunity to let Ryan Suter know how they felt.
The defenseman logged more ice time than any player on either team outside of the goalies – 28:59, to be exact – in his first game at Bridgestone Arena as a member of the Minnesota Wild.
Every time he touched the puck – sometimes simply when his feet hit the ice – the sellout crowd booed. They cheered when he was sent to the penalty box for roughing at 5:53 of the third period and got even louder when the Predators got the game-tying goal on the ensuing power play.
Ultimately, though, Suter and his teammates sent them home disappointed and took the season series with a 2-1 shootout victory over Nashville. Goalie Pekka Rinne stopped only one of three skaters he faced in the shootout The Predators got a successful attempt by Craig Smith but lost when David Legwand’s try went off the post.
“I spent seven years here,” Suter said. “I had a great time here. I had a lot respect for the fans and I still do. It’s part of being a fan. It’s tough to take, but it is what it is.”
Suter, the franchise’s 2003 first-round draft pick and one of only three defensemen to appear in more than 500 games for the team, left Nashville when he accepted Minnesota’s 13-year, $98 million contract offer back on July 4.
He faced his former team twice previously – a 3-1 Nashville victory on Jan. 22 and a 2-1 Wild win in overtime on Feb. 9 – in Minnesota. This was his first time back in town.
The organization opted not to air a video tribute as it had done with two other former players this season.
“The fans let him know,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I think it was a really good decision by our organization. They always do things first class and I thought that was a way to protect Ryan, who was here for a number of years.
“Get used to it. You’re going to see him in the conference for the next  years. If the fans can keep that up for  years it will be awesome.”
Suter did quiet them briefly when he had the primary assist on the Wild’s only goal. His shot from straightaway was deflected by Zach Parise past Rinne at 9:01 of the second period.
He did his best to repeat the feat throughout the night but to no avail. He was credited with just two shots on goal but had six others blocked, including several during an overtime power play when he had a chance to end the game. His eight attempts were the most by any player on either team.
“I was maybe a little bit surprised of that,” Rinne said of the fans’ reaction. “I didn’t know what to expect … [but] he had a long history here. He was a huge part of the organization.
“But it’s an emotional thing for the fans. I totally understand.”
If Suter didn’t, he does now.