Tootoo a hit in historic NHL debut
Jordin Tootoo certainly distinguished himself in his NHL debut.
Tootoo became the first Inuk player in league history as the Nashville Predators skated to a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Mighty Ducks before 16,684 fans at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on Thursday.
"It was everything I hoped and a lot more," said Tootoo, the pride of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
"It was definitely exciting to get the first game out of the way. And I look forward to many more."
"I know for me, my first game I was nervous," said Predators right winger Scott Walker, who earned an assist in his 500th NHL game.
"I didn't have half the people or the media attention he did. I thought he handled himself like a professional."
Although Tootoo failed to register a point, his abrasive play left Anaheim shorthanded in the lategoing.
Helping protect a 2-1 lead, Tootoo's hit on Craig Johnson prompted Garrett Burnett to retaliate and draw an untimely roughing penalty at 9:22 of the third period.
David Legwand scored Nashville's insurance marker 34 seconds later.
"I love taking the body and getting under guys' skin," Tootoo said.
"You talk about jitters," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "He had them, no question.
"I took him out in certain situations. But when it was done, he created a penalty that really allowed us to put the game back in hand."
"He understands how important the team concept is," Trotz continued. "He tried to calm things down and he stayed within his game.
"He was thinking about the team. He initiated and didn't retaliate."
Legwand paced the Predators with one goal and one assist, while Andreas Johansson and Mark Eaton also scored .
Tomas Vokoun turned aside 25 shots in outduelling Martin Gerber, who managed 22 saves.
Rob Niedermayer netted the lone goal for the Mighty Ducks.
Johansson opened the scoring at 5:18 of the second period on a wrist shot.
Eaton upped it to 2-0 at the 11:50 mark, pinching in from the point and beating Gerber to the blocker side.
Niedermayer's second goal of the season halved the deficit on a backhand shot 42 seconds into the third.
But Legwand played tic-tac-toe with Kimmo Timonen and Marek Zidlicky to complete the scoring with 9:56 remaining.
Of note, Tootoo's parents, Barney and Rose, were among the 40 or so Rankin Inlet supporters on hand for Jordin's historic debut.
with files from Sports Network