There was plenty to love in Nashville on Thursday night.
Brian Boyle scored his first goal in Gold, and Pekka Rinne made 34 saves as the Predators defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, at Bridgestone Arena. The victory snaps a three-game skid for the Preds, and gives them a season sweep over the Canadiens.
Thursday's outing saw the Predators get off to a hot start once more, and after a lull in the middle frame, the group responded with two goals in the game's final 20 minutes to get back in the win column.
"With it being this time of the year and looking at the standings, it obviously makes this a very big win, especially after losing the last three," Rinne said.
As was the case on Tuesday evening, the Predators were buzzing in the beginning with 16 shots on goal through the game's first 20 minutes, but still had nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
Midway through the second, however, Ryan Hartman ended a 27-game goalless drought as he created a turnover in neutral ice and then backhanded a Craig Smith rebound past Carey Price. Hartman plucked the proverbial monkey off his back and chucked it into the crowd following the goal while breathing a sigh of relief.
Video: MTL@NSH: Hartman puts home rebound for opening goal
"You have to hope that it's going to come eventually," Hartman said of the goal. "You kind of try to take the little things and try to play the right way. It's going to go eventually, so luckily I stopped it at 27 and stopped the bleeding a little bit."
Montreal certainly had the better share of the chances in the second stanza, and they rode that momentum into the third as Tomas Tatar got the Canadiens on the board less than six minutes in.
That was as close as the visitors got before Boyle slapped home his first with the Preds at 8:36, and Viktor Arvidsson continued his torrid streak as he gave the Preds some insurance by finishing off a nifty passing play at 11 minutes of the final frame.
Video: MTL@NSH: Arvidsson buries Johansen's great feed
Arvidsson now has 12 goals in his last 13 games, and has 18 goals since New Year's Eve to lead the entire NHL.
The losing streak was only at three games, but as Hartman said, it was three games too many. The Preds didn't let it get to four, and a win like this can do a world of good as the club heads back out on the road for a pair in Vegas and Dallas.
"Montreal's a good team over there, and they battled to the end, but so did we," Hartman said "It was a good test for us to overcome a little adversity and we did that.
"We can play a little bit better and try to find a full 60 minutes that we are happy with our game," Rinne said. "But at the end of the day, these two points are the most important thing."
Video: MTL@NSH: Boyle rips shot under Price's pad
Welcome to Smashville:
Brian Boyle had played in Nashville on many occasions as a visitor. He knew how raucous a Bridgestone Arena crowd could get if the situation was right.
On Thursday, he was the one who sent them into a frenzy for the first time - and goodness, did that make an impression.
"The fans and what they offer and how loud it gets, it's an incredible atmosphere," Boyle said. "We're fortunate to play here. This is an awesome town to play hockey in, and hopefully we have many months left."
Through five games with his new club, Boyle is making his mark in a Nashville sweater, showing just how effective he's capable of being across a number of different situations.
"He's a big body, and that's what he does," Arvidsson said. "He's great in front of the net. I think he's starting to learn the system, and it's still a process, but there's 20 games left so he can get even more into it, so that's great. He did a great job tonight."
"Last game, we really felt his impact, more than just in front of the net, and tonight he was one of our top dogs out there," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Boyle. "He played a terrific game. He was on the puck and in front of the net, and he played good defense, so he did a lot of good things for us tonight."
He hit the crossbar on Sunday against St. Louis. On Tuesday, his perfect screen led to a P.K. Subban power-play strike.
And on Thursday, the Seventh Man was serenading the opposing goaltender on account of his doing.
"When you get opportunities and chances in the game, opportunities in terms of power-play time and offensive zone shifts, you want to contribute," Boyle said. "You have to contribute, especially this time of year. It's a really good feeling. It's great to do it at home."
Video: Boyle, Rinne propel Predators past Canadiens, 3-1
Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm missed Thursday's game due to illness. Forwards Cody McLeod and Frederick Gaudreau were also scratched for Nashville.
Nashville has now picked up at least a point in 14 of its last 16 meetings with Montreal and has only lost twice in regulation since Jan. 15, 2009.
Ryan Johansen extended his season-long, six-game point streak with a third-period assist.
With their three-game homestand now complete, the Predators will head on the road for two, beginning on Saturday night in Las Vegas where they'll meet the Golden Knights before heading to Dallas early next week.