VANCOUVER (CP) — P.K. Subban scored two strange goals, including one from centre ice, as the Nashville Predators dismantled the Vancouver Canucks 7-1 on Wednesday night.
Craig Smith had a goal and two assists, while Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala added a goal and an assist each. Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok provided the rest of the offence for Nashville (19-7-4), which got 25 saves from Pekka Rinne.
Ryan Johansen chipped in with two assists in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury as the Predators improved to 12-2-2 over their last 16 games.
Alexander Burmistrov replied for Vancouver (14-14-4). Anders Nilsson allowed all seven goals on 48 shots in the Canucks’ fourth straight regulation loss.
The Predators stretched their lead to 3-0 at 3:05 of the second period when Subban grabbed a loose puck at his blue line and blasted a shot from centre that appeared to be going wide, but instead deflected off Nilsson’s glove and in for his second of the night and sixth of the season.
The Canucks got a bit of life when Burmistrov knocked down a knee-high Henrik Sedin pass — the 800th assist of his NHL career — in the slot before chipping it past Rinne for his second at 5:01.
But Nashville, which lost 5-3 to the Canucks at home on Nov. 30, restored its three-goal lead just 59 seconds later on a power play when Forsberg’s pass through the slot deflected off Vancouver forward Michael Chaput and past Nilsson for his 15th.
Rookie scoring leader Brock Boeser had a good opportunity to get the Canucks back into it with under three minutes left in the second, but Rinne shot out the glove on his backhand from the slot.
Smith then made it 5-1 on a shot shortside into the top corner on Nilsson at 8:48 of the third for his 12th.
The Predators had another 2-on-0 moments later, but Scott Hartnell, who returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury, shot it just wide.
Nashville kept coming with Fiala scoring his sixth at 11:57 — Nilsson broke his stick over the crossbar and tossed the handle into the netting behind his goal in the aftermath — and Jarnkrok added his seventh just 40 seconds later to round out a three-goal outburst in 3:49.
The Canucks, who have now allowed five or more goals in seven games this season, limped into Wednesday minus two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (fractured ankle) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) both out for an extended period, while Brandon Sutter and Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries.
Nashville opened the scoring 1:33 into the game on the first of a number of weird sequences. Canucks defenceman Michael Del Zotto saw his clearing attempt cut off by Subban, who flubbed a quick one-time shot towards the goal that a screened Nilsson, who had dropped to his knees, never saw before it looped up and over his shoulder.
Subban’s fifth of the year also marked the fifth time this year Vancouver has allowed a goal on the opposition’s first shot.
Nilsson had to be sharp on a Colton Sissons shorthanded chance a few minutes later before Rinne stopped Thomas Vanek with his mask.
Kyle Turris, who made waves earlier in the day when he said Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is the reason he was traded out of the nation’s capital last month, then hit the post after coming out of the penalty box.
Vancouver went on another power play later in the period, but Nashville broke the other way on a rare shorthanded 2-on-0 rush, with Johansen feeding Arvidsson for his 11th past a helpless Nilsson at 14:38.
The Canucks looked to have gotten on the scoreboard with 51.6 seconds left when Vanek scored on a nice re-direction off the rush. But the call was overturned after the Predators correctly challenged that Vanek was just offside in the lead-up to the goal.
Notes: Vancouver has been outscored 20-5 since Horvat’s injury. … The Canucks continue a four-game homestand Friday against San Jose. … The Predators visit Edmonton on Thursday and Calgary on Saturday.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press