Pekka Rinne was perfect, and a couple of his teammates found their firsts.
Craig Smith and Miikka Salomaki were among the goal-scorers on Thursday night, as the Nashville Predators shut out the Minnesota Wild by a 4-0 final at Bridgestone Arena. The result gives the Preds five out of a possible six points to conclude their three-game homestand and extends their overall win streak against Minnesota to seven games.
"It's not an everyday thing, so it feels good." Rinne said of the shutout. "After the first period, I thought that we grooved and played really solid. It was a solid two periods of hockey, and that was enough tonight and [we] played well, did what we needed to do."
Nashville's offense remains the League's best as the Preds reach the 10-game mark, and after collecting five out of a possible six points over the past week, there's plenty to like about the group in the early going.
"We've started the season playing really good hockey, but at times we've lost some tough games, games that we felt we could've won," Rinne said. "It's really important we play well at home, and these past two games it's been huge for us. It's a good confidence builder."
The first period didn't provide much fanfare, with the Predators registering just four shots on goal, but they were quite timely in the second stanza.
Just 37 seconds into the period, Salomaki took a drop pass from Colton Sissons and snapped home his first of the season. Before the frame was out, Calle Jarnkrok deposited his second of the campaign at the 19:31 mark to give the Predators a 2-0 advantage through 40 minutes of play.
Video: MIN@NSH: Salomaki threads home Sissons' gorgeous dish
In the third, it was the All-American line of Smith, Nick Bonino and Rocco Grimaldi, who went to work in the offensive zone, and Smith's linemates picked up the helpers before the veteran winger converted in the slot to get his first of the season to go.
Video: MIN@NSH: Smith nets Bonino's pass in front
"Really good," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Craig Smith's game. "He works hard every night. It's nice to see him get rewarded, and maybe that can move him in the right direction, but it's never from a lack of effort or because he doesn't care or play hard. He plays hard, he cares a lot and it's nice to see him get rewarded like that."
Colton Sissons rounded out the scoresheet when he converted on a shorthanded breakaway for Nashville's fourth and final tally, the second consecutive game that has seen the Preds score their fourth of the night while shorthanded.
Video: MIN@NSH: Sissons pads lead with SHG on breakaway
And, of course, No. 35 produced one of his classic outings in the crease, turning aside all 26 shots he faced to record his 56th career shutout. With the win, Rinne also extended his season-opening point streak to seven games (6-0-1), one shy of the Preds record set by Tomas Vokoun in 2005-06.
But it was just another night at the office.
"He's the man around here," Sissons said of his goaltender. "We love playing in front of him. He works so hard and every shutout he gets, he earns. It should be two [shutouts] in a row, honestly. He's been great."
Of course, nothing is perfect, and there are still areas the Predators would like to clean up as the weeks roll along. But, for a 10-game sample size, 13 points is more than satisfactory.
"It's nice to get the points," Laviolette said. "That's important. You're at home here, you want to get points and you want to be successful, so that's a positive. On the flip side of it, I'd like to see just a little bit more consistency with our game. Our goaltending was really good. Peks played tremendous, so that was a real bonus as well."
"We look back as a whole, it's a good segment for us," Smith said. "A lot of good things. That's done and we're off to Tampa now… We're taking it one day at a time, man. Just try to stay positive in here, move forward and try to get better."
Video: MIN Recap: Wild's offense falters in 4-0 loss
Forward Matt Duchene left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury and did not return. Coach Laviolette had no further update on Duchene's status following the game.
Filip Forsberg missed his fourth-consecutive game due to a lower-body injury. Defenseman Matt Irwin entered the lineup on Thursday night in favor of Yannick Weber.
Roman Josi assisted on Miikka Salomaki's goal to extend his point streak to three games.
Dante Fabbro blocked a career-high six shots.
Thursday's attendance of 17,386 was the 160th consecutive sellout at Bridgestone Arena.
The Predators will now head to Tampa Bay for a date with the Lightning on Saturday night (at 6 p.m. CT) before returning to Nashville for another three-game homestand that begins on Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Video: Laviolette thinks the Preds improved across the game