Craig Smith strikes twice as Preds down Habs
Nashville gets bounce-back win in Montreal
All eyes were on P.K. Subban and Shea Weber but it was Craig Smith who stole the show.
Weber scored against his former team and Subban had two assists in a game where Smith's team-leading 13th and 14th goals of the season were the difference.
"He had a super strong game," coach Peter Laviolette said of Smith. "He was physical, he was fast, he was competitive on pucks. And obviously he chipped in on offence as well."
The Predators were playing their second game in as many nights after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday. But Nashville (25-15-3) came out with speed and the Canadiens (22-15-5) couldn't match it.
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Smith extended his personal point streak to five games when he put Subban's rebound past Carey Price at 10:44 of the first period to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Smith has scored in three straight games.
The visitors outshot Montreal 16-11 in the first period as the Canadiens lost for the first time in three outings.
"Tough first period really set us behind," said Weber, who scored his second career goal against Nashville. "Tough team to come back against. They played last night and they came out with a better effort to start the game. They caught us sleeping."
Nashville went up 2-0 with 36 seconds remaining in the first after Mattias Ekholm's slap shot took a slight deflection off Max Domi's stick to fool Price top shelf.
Weber got one back for the Canadiens at 12:47 of the second period when he threw a bouncing puck on net that sailed past a few Predators players.
Smith answered back 18 seconds later on a wraparound. Subban's assist on the goal was his 300th in the NHL.
"It was simple," said Smith of his second goal. "It was a hard forecheck. We got it up. Subby just found a hole to get it in. And you never know what could happen."
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The Canadiens felt Smith prevented Price from making the save and challenged for goalie interference but the call on the ice stood.
"I haven't seen the replay of it so I can't make a fair assessment of it," said Price, who made 28 saves. "But it was explained to me that I made contact outside the crease. It's a moot point because it was their third goal and we obviously only scored one."
Montreal made a push in the third period but Juuse Saros stopped all eight shots he faced. Saros stopped 27-of-28 shots in place of Pekka Rinne, who played Friday.
Viktor Arvidsson added a fourth for Nashville in the empty net with 45 seconds left in the game.
"That's what you have to do on the road. You can't give teams breathing space," said Subban. "For me to just come in and get two points, for our team to get two points on the road, that's big for us. We haven't had much consistency on our team for the past 15 or 20 games, so it's a big win for us."