Pekka Rinne stopped 38 shots as the Nashville Predators defeated the Anaheim Ducks by a 3-2 final on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Preds won the season series with the Ducks, going 2-1-0 against their Western Conference foe.
Tuesday’s contest wrapped up a five-game stretch in Music City that saw the Preds go 3-1-1, including tallying 18 goals over their last four games.
Anaheim outshot Nashville 40 to 21 on the evening but thanks to a few goals and some timely saves from Rinne, the Preds earned their 11th victory of the season.
“It’s a huge two points,” Rinne said. “It doesn’t matter how we [do it], I think at this point after the game you’re always happy if you get the two points.”
The Preds scored first for the 12th time this season, courtesy of a Shea Weber power-play goal on this occasion. Weber’s sixth tally of the campaign came off a Roman Josi feed, the 100th assist of Josi’s career.
Anaheim countered just over a minute later on a Rickard Rakell wraparound that slid under the pad of Rinne, but James Neal put the Preds back up 2-1 at the 13:13 mark of the opening frame. Neal’s ninth of the season came on a wrist shot from outside the blue line that fooled Frederik Andersen and slid through his legs, extending Neal’s point streak to four games in the process.
Miikka Salomaki gave the Preds a two-goal lead with a masterful tip of Mattias Ekholm’s shot from the left wall at 6:13 of the second period. It was Salomaki’s first marker of the season and the second of his NHL career.
Former Preds forward Mike Santorelli crashed the crease early in the third and poked home a loose puck to pull Anaheim to within one, but Rinne and the Nashville defense kept the Ducks off the board for the rest of the night. In addition to Rinne’s 38 stops, the Preds blocked 23 shots, led by four from Josi.
“Tonight we found a way to win behind our goaltender,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We battled, we blocked shots, we fought, we competed, we hit; it wasn’t a typical game for us, but we still found a way to win.”
With the five games in Nashville complete, the Preds now head out on the road for a five-game trip through Thanksgiving, a stretch that will bring its own sets of challenges.
“We’ve got five games on the road in a short amount of time too, so it’s going to be a tough road trip with some travel,” forward Mike Fisher said. “We’ve got to be solid and be sharper and be sharper than we were tonight for sure.”
“It Was All Him Tonight”
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Pekka Rinne has turned in a stellar performance in his career, but his 38 saves against the Ducks helped to ensure Nashville earned two more points, and he was impressive in doing so.
“He was rock solid tonight and gave us an opportunity to win a game,” Laviolette said. “He was sharp, he saw a lot of pucks, he got down in the crease and tied up a lot of rebounds and he was really good.”
Perhaps Rinne’s most jaw-dropping sequence of the night came in the second period when Carl Hagelin was in alone on a breakaway. Rinne turned aside the first opportunity, followed by a dive to his right to fight off a rebound attempt as well. With a little help from defenseman Ryan Ellis, the chance was thwarted, keeping the Preds in front.
“You just try to be ready for anything, and I was happy to make that save and then the rebound,”
Rinne said of the play. “It was a team effort at that point, but a key moment of the game for sure.”
Rinne has now allowed two goals or less in 10 of his 15 appearances this season, and although his teammates would prefer that Rinne not have to be so spectacular throughout the game, they certainly appreciate what he does in the blue paint.
“It was all him tonight,” Fisher said of his netminder. “He was unbelievable on breakaways and odd-man rushes and he bailed us out for sure. It wasn’t our prettiest game by any means and it was all him.”
Gif of the Game:
Miikka Salomaki comes out of nowhere to crush the Ducks’ Corey Perry in the corner.
James Neal on Nashville’s ability to play in different types of games:
“We can play any way,” Neal said. “We can play physical games, we can play skilled games, speed games and we bring a lot of different elements to the ice. That’s what makes our team so special. Sometimes they’re not the prettiest but it was a big two points against a tough team tonight.”
The Predators are now 11-3-3 on the season, including a 3-1-1 mark during their five-game home stand. Nashville remains undefeated in regulation at 6-0-1 when being outshot.
Roman Josi became the sixth defenseman in Preds franchise history to reach 100 assists in his career.
Nashville will hit the road beginning Friday as they travel to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets on Friday night. Minnesota is next on Saturday, followed by stops in New York to face the Rangers and Buffalo and finally Philadelphia before returning home on Nov. 28 to host the Sabres.
Roman Josi’s career mark of 100 assists finds itself in the place of prominence in this evening’s infographic.
Infographic: Preds Roast Ducks Again