One win was worth four places in the Western Conference playoff race for the Nashville Predators.
The Preds jumped from 11th to seventh in one night as Pekka Rinne stopped all 29 shots he faced and rookie Blake Geoffrion scored the first of Nashville's three third-period goals in a 3-0 victory at Vancouver on Thursday night.
"It's a tough team, tough building to play in," Rinne said after earning his fifth shutout of the season. "We did an outstanding job. I couldn't be happier right now."
Nashville (33-23-9) won for only the second time in seven games while the Canucks (40-16-9) suffered their third loss in five games and stretched their win one-lose one streak to 12 games. Despite the setback, Vancouver is still first in the Western Conference and overall NHL standings.
"It feels good to get the shutout in this building against one of the league's toughest teams," Rinne said. "I'm not going to lie, it feels good."
Patric Hornqvist scored late in the third period after a turnover by Dan Hamhuis and David Legwand hit the empty net as the Predators beat the Canucks for the second time in three tries and rebounded from a 2-1 loss in Edmonton two nights earlier.
"We had more scoring chances, we had more shots, we just didn't execute," Rinne said of the loss to the last-place Oilers. "We've been playing well -- it's not about that. It's about execution, and tonight we decided that if we play well defensively, everything else would take care of itself."
The Canucks were shut out for the fourth time this season, but captain Henrik Sedin felt his team turned in a better performance than Tuesday's 2-1 shootout win against Columbus.
"If you look at the result, we lost 3-0, you might go home and think that we played a bad game," he said. "But if we can build on this and play this type of game, we're going to score more goals, we know that, I had a lot of chances today, Mason (Raymond) hit the crossbar. We could have easily won this game."
Geoffrion broke a scoreless tie at 1:59 of the third, firing Jordan Tootoo's pass from behind the net over Roberto Luongo's shoulder for his second goal since being called up from Milwaukee of the AHL on Saturday.
"It's been a whirlwind," Geoffrion said. "I try not to think about it too much with what's on the line here and making the playoffs and it's so tight. I'll think about all that stuff after the year and take it all in then."
Hornqvist made it 2-0 with 2:21 remaining when he Hamhuis of the puck in front of his net, scrambled to his feet and beat a sprawling Luongo, who was deprived of his 300th career win and 30th win of the season.
Vancouver has now gone four straight periods without scoring and have alternated wins and losses in the last 12 games.
"We went into the third, I thought, in pretty good shape at 0-0," Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "We made a mistake, we lost the puck battle, they had a 2-on-1 in front of our net and they made us pay for it. Power play had a chance, some good chances to tie it up, and some of our guys right now are having a tough time finding the back of the net, that's going to happen."
Both goaltenders were busy in the first minute of a mostly uneventful opening period. Rinne foiled Henrik Sedin from the slot and Luongo blocked a dangerous chance by Nick Spraling, but the teams managed just four shots in the first 10 minutes.
The Predators continued to thwart the Canucks' offense in the second, but the action heated up in the final five minutes of the period, when Raymond and Tootoo both hit iron.
"We're used to those 1-0, 2-0 games," Nashville captain Shea Weber said.
Referee Justin St. Pierre left the game in the second period with a sprained ankle. Dave Jackson served as the lone referee for the rest of the game.
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report
|Shane O'Brien Hi-sticking against Jeff Tambellini|
|Jannik Hansen Interference against Shea Weber|
|Patric Hornqvist Tripping against Alexandre Burrows|
|Keith Ballard Delaying Game-Puck over glass|