Rinne stopped all 19 shots he faced for his sixth shutout of the season as Nashville began a five-game homestand by beating the Minnesota Wild 4-0 at Bridgestone Arena.
"That was great," Rinne said of the rare burst of offense, including three goals in the game's first 12:32. "We're so used to playing those one-goal games, and we've been having a tough time scoring goals so obviously confidence-wise and everything, it was a big win. Four goals, they go a long way."
The Predators moved into ninth place in the West with 78 points, one behind eighth-place Los Angeles. Coach Barry Trotz says his plan for making the playoffs is simple:
"We've got to keep winning games to be in the top eight because the teams ahead of us aren't going to lose any or very few," he said. "So you've just go to keep winning. If you do that, we'll be there. If you look at the teams that we're chasing, they're playing the teams we're right with."
Joel Ward and Martin Erat each had a goal and assist as the Predators scored three in the first period. Nick Spaling scored two goals, and Rinne breezed to his third career shutout of his career against Minnesota.
David Legwand added two assists to help the Predators break out of a slump while going 3-5-2 over the last 10 games. Nashville took the season series against the Wild 3-1, winning the last three by a margin of 13-1.
Minnesota started a four-game trip with a loss and with Mikko Koivu still out with a broken finger and forward Cal Clutterbuck (upper-body injury) scratched. Coach Todd Richards said he's not expecting either Koivu or Clutterbuck to return soon.
"We have to figure out a way," Richards said.
The Predators play 11 of their next 13 games at home, and Trotz is glad to be back in Music City after a tough four-game Western trip that dropped his team out of the top eight.
"It's going to be really hard at home because teams are going to come in battling for points," Trotz said. "We're going to need those points, and every game is a big game."
Ward scored his ninth of the season at 3:13 with a snap shot from the inside edge of the left circle on a passout from Legwand. Spaling made it 2-0 just 48 seconds later, converting Jerred Smithson's pass.
"We've been on the other end of that, and it can be very deflating," Smithson said of the quick goals. "We stayed with our game plan. We did the right things and capitalized on our chances, which is something we haven't done lately."
Nashville took 10 of the first 11 shots, and Erat made it a 3-0 lead at 12:32 by flipping the rebound of Ward's shot over Niklas Backstrom's glove as he fell back into the net.
"We didn't start well, Wild defenseman Nick Schultz said. "They are a team that starts extremely well at home, and we weren't ready for it."
Minnesota had just nine shots through the first 40 minutes.
"We didn't have an answer for it," Richards said of the Predators' early offense. "We didn't have a lot of push back tonight."
Minnesota had 10 shots in the third, but Spaling scored with 5:01 remaining to put the game away with his seventh career goal -- all at home.
Material from wire services was used in this report
|Joel Ward (9) ASST: David Legwand (20), Martin Erat (28)|
1 - 0 NSH
|Nick Spaling (6) ASST: Jerred Smithson (6), Matt Halischuk (4)|
2 - 0 NSH
|Martin Erat (12) ASST: Joel Ward (16), David Legwand (21)|
3 - 0 NSH
|Nick Spaling (7) ASST: Shea Weber (28), Sergei Kostitsyn (19)|
4 - 0 NSH
|Greg Zanon Interference against Patric Hornqvist|
|Brent Burns Elbowing against Nick Spaling|
|Blake Geoffrion Hooking against Eric Nystrom|
|Cody Franson Cross checking against Antti Miettinen|
|Antti Miettinen Hi-sticking against Cody Franson|
|Antti Miettinen Tripping against Jordin Tootoo|