MONTREAL (AP)Cole Caufield scored two power-play goals and the Montreal Canadiens held off the Nashville Predators 4-3 on Thursday night after honoring former defenseman P.K. Subban in a pregame ceremony.
”I think our special teams was a pretty big deal,” Caufield said. ”Penalty kill and power play, we’re trying to get in the right direction with those categories but it sure is a big step for us and we’re trying to keep that going.”
Kirby Dach added a goal and an assist for Montreal, Jake Evans also scored and Jonathan Drouin had three assists. Samuel Montembeault stopped 39 shots.
Nino Niederreiter, Filip Forsberg and Juuso Parssinen scored for Nashville. Yaroslav Askarov made 31 saves in his NHL debut.
”First game in the NHL. Awesome, awesome,” Askarov said. ”Yes, we lose but I will remember this game forever.”
Midway through the second period, Nick Suzuki sent a cross-ice pass to Caufield for a goal that gave Montreal a 3-2 lead. Caufield struck again at 6:15 of the third, scoring on a one-timer off a pass from Dach.
The Predators pulled Askarov with just under three minutes remaining, and Parssinen scored with 1:29 left on a slap shot.
Nashville coach John Hynes said his team gave ”40 minutes” of effort, starting in the second period.
”Both teams had to be ready for it,” Hynes said about staying focused during Subban’s ceremony. ”They were ready for it, we weren’t.”
Subban played his first seven full NHL seasons with the Canadiens, winning the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 2012-13, and also played for the Predators and New Jersey.
He addressed the crowd and was met with a standing ovation.
”It’s always an emotional time and the respect is overwhelming,” said Subban, who retired after last season. ”Everybody wants to be respected but when it’s like that, you never really know how to handle it. I just tried to take it in stride and be appreciative of the fact that I played here.”
Predators: Host Buffalo on Saturday night.
Canadiens: At New York Islanders on Saturday night.
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