The Nashville Predators visited their first barn outside of Music City on Tuesday and emerged from Newark with a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Preds won their third-straight contest to open the season, improving to 3-0-0 for only the third time in franchise history.
Preds defenseman Roman Josi tallied twice, including a one-timer from above the right face-off circle in the first period to put the visitors ahead 1-0 on the power play.
“I think first of all, [goaltender Pekka Rinne] has been great these first three games, and he’s making a lot of key saves,” Josi said. “Yes, we’re 3-0-0, but I think we didn’t play that well tonight, especially in the second period; they outplayed us pretty badly. We had Pekka to make some big saves for us. We can probably play better, but of course we’re happy to be 3-0-0.”
Rinne was mere seconds away from a second-straight shutout, but Kyle Palmieri’s goal through traffic with 100 tickets left in regulation pulled the Devils to within one goal of the Preds. Nashville’s second empty-net score of the contest, this one from Eric Nystrom, sealed the Predators victory with under a minute left in regulation, while Josi’s second goal, also an empty netter, stood as the game winner. It was also the Swiss blueliner’s first career shorthanded goal.
Room for Improvement:
A testament to the high standards put on themselves this season, the Predators weren’t shy about saying they feel they can play better, despite holding a perfect record. Even with giving up zero even-strength goals this season, Nashville and Head Coach Peter Laviolette want more offensive opportunities and production as a whole.
“We’re getting in on guys and we’re getting to pucks, but that being said, our shots aren’t nearly as high as they were throughout the course of the season last year,” Preds forward Craig Smith said. “I think especially our shot attempts [can improve], more cycles and time in the offensive zone, just a few things to tweak and we’ll get there. But you can’t argue with wins.”
“It’s a good thing to still have room for improvement even though we’re still 3-0-0,” Josi said. “We know we can play better and we can work on those things. We’ll have to practice on them and get better. The Islanders are a tough team; they have a lot of speed, so we’ll have to be ready for them. We have to be better to get a win.”
For the Preds coach, the synopsis of his club’s play was short and to the point.
“The power play is moving around pretty good, the penalty kill is doing a real good job, defensively [we’re] not bad, so offensively we’ve just got to pick up that part of the game,” Laviolette said.
Gif of the Game:
The Predators rotate the puck on the power play until Shea Weber feeds Josi for a one-timer strike.
In his 384th contest in a Predators sweater, Rinne broke a tie with Tomas Vokoun to set a franchise record for the most games played by a goaltender. Following the contest, the Finnish netminder summed of the significance of the contest:
“It’s a big honor,” Rinne said. “Tomas Vokoun had a long career in Nashville and he was someone I really looked up to when I first came over. I hope there’s a lot more games to come. It’s quite an accomplishment.”
Palmieri’s man-advantage goal was the first power-play score given up by the Predators penalty-kill unit this season. Nashville has killed nine of 10 penalties for a 90 percent success rate.
Forward Austin Watson skated in his first game of the 2015-16 season, logging 11:07 of TOI and a plus-1 rating.
The Predators will practice at the Prudential Center on Wednesday in advance of their second contest of a three-game excursion away from Bridgestone Arena. The New York Islanders will host the Predators at Barclays Center on Thursday at 6 p.m. (CT). The contest will be the Preds inaugural outing in the venue.
Another stellar start of Rinne is the focus of this evening’s infographic.
Preds Down Devils