VANCOUVER — Jordan Gross scored his first two NHL goals, and the Nashville Predators rallied from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in a shootout at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
Gross, who signed a two-year contract on July 14, was playing in his second game with Nashville and 12th in the NHL.
“Really special. It’s something you’ve worked for for a long time and it felt great,” Gross said when asked if his goals meant more because of the comeback. “Didn’t have the best start personally and felt great to get one back for the team.”
Nino Niederreiter had a goal and an assist, Mattias Ekholm had two assists, and Jesus Saros made 42 saves for the Predators (5-6-1), who won consecutive games for the first time since sweeping the San Jose Sharks in the Global Series in Prague to open the season. Matt Duchene scored in the second round of the shootout.
“As soon as we scored that first goal, I felt like we had a mental advantage over them,” Ekholm said. “They seemed to be on their heels a little bit. They were just flipping pucks out, and we kept coming at them and got another goal and after that, we pressed for a fourth, and it didn’t come until the shootout.”
Video: [email protected]: Gross gets Predators within 1 in 3rd period
JT Miller had a goal and an assist, Quinn Hughes had two assists, and Thatcher Demko made 27 saves for the Canucks (3-6-3), who blew a multigoal lead for the fifth time this season.
“We sat back instead of went after them, and then the next thing you know, they’ve got two goals (in the third period),” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think sometimes it’s like you’re afraid to win, and we righted the ship after that, and they didn’t have a lot, but it was too little too late.”
Ilya Mikheyev gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead at 1:56 of the first period, scoring from the left face-off circle.
Miller made it 2-0 at 3:41 on a rebound in the slot off Nils Hoglander‘s shot after Gross turned the puck over to Bo Horvat. Miller then fed Andrei Kuzmenko for a tip-in on a power play at 17:32 to make it 3-0.
“We knew that just because the first period was in our favor pretty much the whole time that the game wasn’t over,” Miller said. “We played a good 40 minutes, set ourselves up, and obviously we’re tired of getting teams coming back on us. But it’s not all bad, and I think we’re a lot closer than people think.”
Video: [email protected]: Miller scores 7th of season in 1st period
Nashville didn’t get a shot on goal until 6:41 of the first period and was outshot 13-3 despite having three power plays.
“We weren’t very good in the first period,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. “I thought Vancouver beat us all over the ice, and our speed, our competitiveness, our execution wasn’t at the level that it needed to be. We did enough tonight to be able to find a way to win, but I think we got better in us.”
Gross cut it to 3-1 at 3:00 of the second period, deflecting Niederreiter’s shot on a power play from the slot.
“What? [defenseman]scoring your first one from there, that’s a little uncharacteristic, but I’ll take it,” Gross said.
Gross then made it 3-2 at 1:06 of the third period on a point shot through traffic.
“We put ourselves in a big hole there and that’s one of the reasons why we have him on the team,” Hynes said of Gross. “He’s shown that he’s got the ability to be able to produce offense. He’s got good vision. He can move the puck and obviously, the power-play goal he got was pretty good. You can see his offensive instincts down around the net and then obviously, the goal from the blue line was a great shot.”
Video: [email protected]: Niederreiter evens game in 3rd period
Niederreiter scored on his own rebound in tight to tie it 3-3 at 2:41.
Saros bounced back from a slow start to make 17 saves in the second period, including eight while short-handed, and 13 in the third. He also stopped Miller on three breakaway chances in the game.
“[Saros] had my number, that’s for sure,” said Miller, who was also stopped in the shootout. “I could have broken the game early multiple times and opened it multiple times, and I didn’t so I’ve got to find a way to bear down on my chances.”
NOTES: Nashville defenseman Dante Fabbro had one assist, one shot on goal, three hits and one block in 16:31 of ice time after missing one game as a healthy scratch. … Miller has nine points (five goals, four assists) during a six-game point streak. … Horvat’s assist on Miller’s goal was his 200th in the NHL and extended his point streak to four games (six goals, two assists). … Hughes has five assists in three games after missing four with a lower-body injury. … Hoglander had one assist, three shots and one hit in 11:26 of ice time after missing one game as a healthy scratch. … Canucks forward Vasily Podkolzin was a healthy scratch.