VANCOUVER — There have been times this season when P.K. Subban felt he deserved a goal that didn't materialize.
Wednesday was not one of those nights.
Subban scored twice under strange circumstances, including once from centre ice, as the Nashville Predators continued to roll with a 7-1 demolition of the Vancouver Canucks.
The slick defenceman opened the scoring on a weird shot that looped over Anders Nilsson's shoulder in the first period before beating the Canucks goalie from the red line early in the second on a shot that seemed to curve slightly before glancing in off the netminder's glove.
"I can think of a couple times this year where (on) more of an honest play, pucks should have went in and they didn't," said Subban. "I'll take it."
Craig Smith had a goal and two assists, Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala added a goal and an assist each, and Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok provided the rest of the offence for Nashville (19-7-4), which got 25 saves from Pekka Rinne.
Ryan Johansen chipped in with two assists in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an upper-body injury as the Predators improved to 12-2-2 over their last 16 contests.
"It was awesome," said Johansen. "The two-way game tonight, I thought was spectacular."
Alexander Burmistrov replied for Vancouver (14-14-4). Nilsson allowed all seven goals on 48 shots in the Canucks' fourth straight regulation loss.
"When you get some goals that go in the net the way they did, it is going to take some confidence away from your group," said Vancouver head coach Travis Green. "That's human nature and that's not easy to stop."
The Predators stretched their advantage to 3-0 at 3:05 of the second when Subban beat Nilsson from centre for his sixth of the season, but the Canucks got a bit of life when Burmistrov knocked down a knee-high Henrik Sedin pass — the 800th assist of his NHL career — before chipping the puck past Rinne for his second at 5:01.
Nashville, which blew a third-period lead in losing 5-3 to the Canucks at home on Nov. 30, went back up by three just 59 seconds later on a power play when Forsberg's pass through the slot deflected in off Vancouver forward Michael Chaput for his 15th.
"It was not only hard for me, it was hard for the whole team," said Nilsson. "We didn't have the bounces on our side."
Smith made it 5-1 on a shot shortside into the top corner at 8:48 of the third for his 12th.
The Predators had their second 2-on-0 of the game moments later, but Scott Hartnell, who returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury, shot just wide.
Nashville kept coming with Fiala scoring his sixth at 11:57 — Nilsson broke his stick over the crossbar and tossed the handle into the netting behind his goal — and Jarnkrok added his seventh just 40 seconds later to round out a three-goal outburst in 3:49.
"Disappointing the way we responded," said Sedin. "When it's 5-1 we have to play with some pride, play for Anders.
"We gave up chance after chance."
Canucks forward Jake Virtanen got his stick up while taking Predators defenceman Alexei Emelin hard into the boards on the next shift. Subban went after Virtanen right away in a scrum that resulted in the pair, along with Hartnell, getting assessed 10-minute misconducts.
"I wish I would have got my gloves off earlier, to be honest with you," said Subban. "He's got to understand that when you do something like that we're going to jump in.
"We'll get our opportunity, for sure."
The Canucks, who have allowed five or more goals in seven games this season, limped into Wednesday minus two-thirds of their top line with Bo Horvat (fractured ankle) and Sven Baertschi (broken jaw) out, while Brandon Sutter and Erik Gudbranson remain sidelined with upper-body injuries.
Nashville opened the scoring 1:33 into the game on the first of a number of weird sequences. Canucks defenceman Michael Del Zotto saw his clearing attempt cut off by Subban, who flubbed a quick one-timer towards goal that a screened Nilsson never saw.
Subban's fifth of the year also marked the fifth time this year Vancouver has allowed a goal on the opposition's first shot.
The Canucks went on the power play later in the period, but the Predators broke the other way on a shorthanded 2-on-0 rush, with Johansen feeding Arvidsson for his 11th at 14:38 — a goal that was a sign of things to come.
"They come pretty hard," said Nilsson. "Still, everyone, including myself, need to play better."
Notes: Canucks defenceman Christopher Tame appeared to injure his leg in the third period, and played just one 17-second shift the rest of the game. ... Vancouver, which had a goal called back for offside late in the first, has been outscored 20-5 since Horvat's injury. ... The teams play again March 2 in Nashville.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press