NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Changes clearly were needed. The Islanders had bumbled their way through a first period in which the Predators outskated and outclassed them.
“They were outshooting us but they weren’t really getting anything for the first 10 minutes,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We started turning pucks over and then it was a free-for-all.”
Trotz altered his forward lines and defensive pairings with immediate results in the second period, but not before the Predators scored three goals late in the first in a 5-2 win over the Islanders on Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Islanders (2-2-0), opening a four-game road trip, already had altered their lineup with Andrew Ladd returning from injured reserve and center Stephen Gionta signing a one-year, two-way contract after coming to training camp. He replaced Casey Cizikas, placed on IR retroactive to Monday, when he suffered a lower-body issue in a 4-0 win over the Sharks at Barclays Center. Cizikas is eligible to be activated for Wednesday night’s game in Anaheim.
In the second period, Trotz shifted Ladd to Mathew Barzal’s top line with Josh Bailey. Anthony Beauvillier was dropped to Valtteri Filppula’s third line with Cal Clutterbuck.
“We didn’t have any net presence,” Trotz said, adding that Beauvillier was “trying to force things.”
He added, “Everybody wants to be on the outside. I just thought, ‘Enough is enough. Let’s get some guys to the net.’ ”
Defensively, Trotz separated turnover-prone Adam Pelech from Ryan Pulock and placed him with Johnny Boychuk. Pulock skated with Nick Leddy.
“I didn’t think Pelly was good today,” Trotz said. “It was probably his weakest game so far. Unfortunately, you’re going to have that. He’s playing bigger minutes and in more important situations.”
Robin Lehner, making his second straight start, again was good and stopped 24 shots. Juuse Saros made 20 saves for the Predators (4-1-0) after stopping 26 shots in a 4-3 win at Barclays Center on Oct. 6.
“I felt like I made a lot of good saves, then boom, boom, it was 2-0,” Lehner said. “But I want to be better.”
Trotz initially put Gionta in Cizikas’ spot on the fourth line between Matt Martin and Clutterbuck. Ladd started with Filppula and Leo Komarov.
Ladd is looking to rebound after slumping to 12 goals and 17 assists in 73 games last season as he battled back problems.
He missed all but the first two practices of training camp after suffering an upper-body issue that Trotz labeled as “tightness.”
“I felt OK,” said Ladd, who converted Barzal’s pass from behind the crease for a one-timer to bring the Islanders within 3-2 at 12:02 of the second period. “I’m just trying to get back up to speed and realizing how much time and space you have to make plays.”
The Predators took a 3-0 lead as they outshot the Islanders 16-4 in the first period. Calle Jarnkrok stuffed it past Lehner at 15:25 after Nick Bonino skated past Pelech. Filip Forsberg’s one-timer on an odd-man rush made it 2-0 at 16:37 and Viktor Arvidsson scored against the Islanders for the third time this season with 9.2 seconds to go.
Brock Nelson notched his 100th career goal off the rush at 6:14 of the second period to make it 3-1.
However, Kyle Turris’ power-play goal at 4:32 of the third period was a back-breaker, giving the Predators a 4-2 lead. It marked their first man-advantage goal of the season and the first power-play goal the Islanders have allowed. Forsberg added an empty-netter at 19:00 to seal it.