Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves and the Nashville Predators fell to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-0 on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. The result in Nashville's first game of 2018 sees it remain at the 51-point mark, five behind the Golden Knights for tops in the Western Conference.
Vegas used their speed throughout the night and showed why they're at the top of the West standings, capitalizing twice in the second period and holding the Preds off the scoresheet.
"I think at times in the game we played really well, and other times not so much," Preds defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We need to continue to get better inside of our own game, being more responsible, and that goes for everyone."
"They're fast; there's a reason for them to be that high up in the standings," Captain Roman Josi said. "They're fast, they got a lot of speed and they're a real complete team, definitely one of the fastest teams."
After 32 minutes of just about the most exciting, scoreless hockey possible, Vegas tallied twice within 90 seconds to carry a 2-0 advantage into the second intermission. Reilly Smith and Shea Theodore each beat Pekka Rinne, while the Predators were unable to convert on their opportunities in the middle frame, Nashville's best period of the game.
"The second period, I thought we played a pretty good period, with the exception of a four-minute span," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "The second period wasn't bad, with the exception of those four minutes. Inside of those four minutes, we made too many mistakes and that cost us the game."
Tuesday brought about the return of Ellis to the Nashville lineup, after the defenseman missed the first 38 games of the season recovering from offseason knee surgery. After leading the team with 7:37 of ice time after one period, Ellis finished with 18:27 to his credit, fourth among Preds defensemen.
"First period, I think I was a little rusty," Ellis said. "As the game went on, I kind of found my legs and felt better and better and more comfortable out there."
"I thought he was great," Josi said of Ellis. "I thought he played really well. It's not easy coming back after such a long time, and he looked like he didn't miss a beat. I thought he was really good."
Video: NSH Recap: Rinne stops 28 shots in loss to Vegas
Ellis skated alongside Roman Josi in his return to the lineup, with P.K. Subban and Alexei Emelin remaining together and Mattias Ekholm and Anthony Bitetto making up the third pairing.
Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin and Pontus Aberg were scratched for Nashville against Vegas.
The Golden Knights extended their winning streak to eight games and their point streak (12-0-1) to 13 with the victory - the longest such runs by a team in its inaugural season in NHL history.
Nashville's three-game trip to start 2018 continues on Thursday with a meeting against the Coyotes before finishing on Saturday night in Los Angeles.