The Nashville Predators were held scoreless on Saturday night as the New York Rangers downed the Preds, 2-0.
After a scoreless first 27 minutes of play, Ryan McDonagh broke the tie as he tipped a Dan Girardi shot past Marek Mazanec at the 13:13 mark of the second period. McDonagh broke into the zone and ended up alone, just above the crease, and tipped the shot five-hole.
The Rangers opened the gap to two goals at the 7:45 mark of the final frame. Mats Zuccarello picked up a loose puck near center ice and skated in two-on-one with Derek Stepan. Zuccarello saucered a pass over Kevin Klein’s stick, hit Stepan in stride, as the Ranger centerman rifled a shot over Mazanec shoulder.
The Preds put on a late push with Mazanec pulled, as Shea Weber dinged two shots off the post with less than two minutes remaining in the game, but the effort was all for naught as the Rangers held on for the shut out.
Two Big Things and Notes:
Penalty Kill Remains Strong: Nashville’s penalty kill stymied the League’s third-best road power play on their three man-advantage chances on Saturday night. The Preds have not allowed a power-play goal in four games (0-11), as they have faced some of the League’s top power-play units, and have only surrendered three power-play goals on 29 times shorthanded in their last nine outings. Nashville’s penalty kill is now ranked 12th in the League (83.3 percent), while allowing the 10th-fewest power-play goals (13) in the League.
Face-off Dominance: If the Nashville Predators do anything better than 99.9 percent of the League, it’s winning face-offs. The Predators rank second in the League in team face-off win percentage this season (55.1 percent). Nashville has been better than 50 percent in the face-off circle in 20 of its 23 games this season. Nashville is led in the face-off circle by Paul Gaustad, who has won 247 of 400 face-offs this season (61.6 percent) to lead the League in the category among players who have taken at least 250 draws. Gaustad started Saturday night’s tilt going zero-for-three in the first period, but recovered to go nine for 14 on the night. Matt Cullen has also been strong on the dot, as he ranks among the League’s top face-off men (fifth, 58.5 percent), winning 162 of 277 draws on the season. He went 8-for-12 on Saturday night.
The Predators’ penalty kill was perfect again tonight, and has not allowed a goal in thirteen straight opportunities.
Nashville won 27 of 47 faceoffs (57 percent) to improve to 55.1% on the season.
Tonight was the fifth time in 2013-14 that the Predators have been shut out.
Kevin Klein's fighting major was the sixth of his career (last on March 14, 2013 at Vancouver).
First-year goaltender Marek Mazanec was strong in the loss, stopping 32 of 34 shots. His .929 save percentage is second behind Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen among rookies. Tonight was the sixth straight start for the young Czech.
Captain Shea Weber led all players in ice time at 27:49. Weber has led Nashville in ice time in 16 of the last 17 games. Weber also led the Predators with three shots on goal.