NASHVILLE – Nashville coach Barry Trotz reminded his team at the end of the second period of the need to react the right way under pressure. The Predators needed only one period to prove they listened well.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice 2:17 apart in the third period, and Nashville rallied to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 in their home opener Thursday night. His first two goals of the season came after officials ruled no goal for Nashville nearly midway through the third on a shot that was trickling toward the line when Jason Arnott’s skate pushed it across.
“They seemed to be on a mission the next few shifts, and they were,” Trotz said. “They had great traffic. Hornqvist in front was really huge for that.”
Hornqvist was playing on the first line with Arnott and Steve Sullivan with J.P. Dumont sitting out after crashing into the boards last weekend in the season opener. Trotz said he wants to see that kind of play from all his players.
“He gets in those really what I call dirty, greasy areas. … You’ve got to want to be there. He’s a guy who makes sure he’s there when the puck’s there. It’s a skill. It’s a great skill, and you see (Tomas) Holmstrom do it in Detroit all the time and how effective he is tonight. You saw how effective it was for us, and I thought Patric did a great job,” Trotz said.
Arnott finished with a goal and an assist, and Ryan Suter had two assists in helping Nashville win its third straight home opener. Arnott thought he drew a penalty when his hand was slashed, lifting his stick just as he tried to tap in that puck.
“I’m just glad we ended up with a win after missing a puck that’s lying there on the crease line,” Arnott said.
Marek Svatos and Kyle Quincey scored power-play goals for Colorado. The Avalanche started a seven-game trip, the franchise’s longest since moving to Denver in 1995. They missed their first 3-0 start since leaving Quebec.
Svatos scored just as the Avalanche’s third power play of the game was ending. Darcy Tucker passed to T.J. Hensick along the left boards, and Hensick passed along the line to Svatos who wristed his first goal this season over the glove of Dan Ellis at 7:44 of the third.
“When you have a 2-1 lead on the road in the third period … that’s a hard one to swallow,” Colorado coach Joe Sacco said.
Nashville thought it had tied it on Hornqvist’s shot at 11:02. Goaltender Craig Anderson’s right skate caught the puck just enough before Arnott missed it with his stick and apparently touched it with his skate. The official behind the net immediately waved it off. A review followed, and it was ruled that Arnott kicked the puck in.
Hornqvist tied it 87 seconds later, tapping in a rebound of Suter’s shot from in front of the crease.
Then Hornqvist redirected Shea Weber’s shot from the right circle at 14:48 to put the Predators ahead to stay.
“It was a good day,” Hornqvist said. “The puck went two times right to my stick, and I had an open net.”
Anderson stopped 34 shots and Colorado managed only 24.
“He gave us a chance to win,” Avalanche captain Adam Foote said. “We’ve got to learn to win those.”
Colorado scored first on a power-play goal at 4:30 of the second period. Triston Grant went to the box for interference, and John-Michael Liles passed along the blue line to Quincey whose one-timer beat Ellis.
Nashville tied it on Arnott’s second goal this season after a shot bounced out, and Sullivan passed from the right circle to Arnott in the top of the slot for a one-timer at 11:02 of the second.
The Avalanche missed a chance to take the lead in the final seconds of the second when Matt Duchene skated up the slot and tried to backhand the puck past Ellis at the post. The goalie stopped it with his left leg to preserve the tie.
NOTES: The Predators came into Thursday third in the NHL for home wins since the start of the 2005-06 season. The Predators have won no less than 23 home games a season in that stretch. Only Detroit, New Jersey and Minnesota have matched that. … As the Quebec Nordiques, the franchise’s longest trip was nine games in 1980 and eight games in 1981. … Arnott’s goal was the 366th of his career.