NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Predators goalie Pekka Rinne left early in the third period after being crunched in a collision at the net, leaving backup Anders Lindback to make his NHL debut.
The way the Predators were playing, the switch didn’t make a difference.
Steve Sullivan scored a power-play goal and had an assist in the second period, and Nashville opened the season by beating the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Saturday night.
Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand added goals for the Predators. Shea Weber, chosen as Nashville captain in July, also had two assists as the Predators won their opener for the fifth time in seven seasons.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Rinne was day to day because of a lower body injury. The Predators likely will recall a goalie on Monday, but they don’t play again until Wednesday at Chicago.
“I know it’s not anything major,” Trotz said of Rinne’s injury.
The 6-foot-6 Lindback, who played the final 17 minutes, 22 seconds, stopped seven shots. His timing also was perfect. His parents were in the stands from Finland, in town to help him get settled.
“I didn’t really have time to think. It all went so quickly,” Lindback said. “As we said, it’s my job to be ready and just go out there and try to do my best.”
Saku Koivu scored the first goal of the season for the Ducks, who have lost the first two games of a three-game, season-opening trip.
“It’s tough having to play from behind all the time, but it is only Game Two right now,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “We’re a learning team right now, and we have to take things out of tonight and go forward with it.”
Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller, in net for Friday night’s 4-0 loss at Detroit, gave up three goals to Nashville on 12 shots in the second period. Hiller has faced 92 shots to start the season.
The Predators outshot the Ducks 49-37.
The Ducks were on the power play for 3:15, while they trailed 2-1, including 45 seconds of a 5-on-3 advantage, but Rinne kept Anaheim from scoring. Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said his top line is too busy trying to beat people one-on-one.
“We had all kinds of chances,” Carlyle said. “I think Bobby Ryan put one off the crossbar. I think Corey Perry put one off the crossbar. We have to keep that shoot-first mentality. Get that puck directly to the net.”
Rinne was hit by Anaheim forward Troy Bodie and his own teammate, Francis Bouillon. Bodie was rushing toward the net when hit by Bouillon, driving into Rinne and knocking the net off its moorings. All three came to a stop, and Rinne’s head hit the boards 83 seconds into the third.
Rinne played a couple more minutes and waved at the bench for Lindback to start stretching.
“Linny is going to have to come in and be big for us whenever he has to,” Sullivan said. “He did that.”
Nashville, who finished the preseason with three straight wins, celebrated starting the season at home with a red carpet arrival for the players and a big party in front of the arena before the puck dropped. The Predators had a sold-out crowd inside cheering them on, as well.
“We want to get on a roll here,” Weber said. “Start of the season hasn’t been great for us the last little while. We need to make sure we’re getting points at the start and make it easier on us down the road.”
Trotz had said his Predators sometimes get too excited playing in front of their rowdy fans. That might be why the Predators outshot the Ducks 16-9 in the first period, but couldn’t get anything past Hiller.
Goc changed that at 4:10 of the second when he beat Hiller with a wrister.
Koivu tied it with a wrister from the slot at 5:25, beating Rinne between the pads. Nashville defenceman Ryan Suter made a great save a couple minutes later to keep it tied. With Rinne at the left post, Suter, who said he was out of position, sprawled out and knocked the puck away from the open side.
Nashville drew a penalty on Sheldon Brookbank for interference at 8:07 for its third power play. The Predators, ranked 24th in the NHL on the power play last season, finally scored their first goal with the man advantage 26seconds later. Suter passed to Sullivan, who beat Hiller with a slap shot while Hornqvist was in front of the goalie.
Hornqvist finished the second-period scoring at 16:12 when he batted a puck past Hiller from the edge of the crease to make it 3-1.
Legwand made it 4-1 at 12:39 of the third, tapping back the rebound of his own missed shot over a sprawling Hiller.
NOTES: Suter played 2:12 of the 3:15 the Ducks had on consecutive power plays. Jerred Smithson played 2:22 of that for Nashville. … The Predators are 6-2-1 in their last nine at home against Anaheim. … Nashville went 1-of-7 with the man advantage.