Filip Forsberg scored twice and Pekka Rinne was perfect in the shootout as the Nashville Predators defeated the Montreal Canadiens by a 3-2 final on Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena. The win gives Nashville a perfect 3-0-0 home stand and victories in eight of their last nine outings, enough for 16 points in the standings over that span.
Facing an opponent that had lost four straight coming in and had played the night before, the Preds were expecting a better effort from themselves, but ultimately still found a way to collect two more points.
"I don't think we were particularly smooth with execution with what we were trying to do; some of that could have been us, I think some of it had to do with them," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "We've played in some games where there's been a lot of room and a lot of space, and we were able to execute and have it look a little better, but tonight, it just wasn't that game. This was the game that was dealt to us, so I give our guys a lot of credit for staying in and playing that game."
After Montreal struck first in the game's opening period, Forsberg evened the score on the power play, potting his 10th of the season with just 1.5 seconds remaining in the first stanza. The goal extended Forsberg's point streak to six games with three goals and eight points during the stretch.
Video: MTL@NSH: Forsberg beats the clock for power-play goal
A scoreless second period led to another power-play tally, again from Forsberg, for a 2-1 advantage that held until Joe Morrow tied with game with less than a minute left in regulation time. After the teams traded chances in overtime, Kyle Turris was the only skater to find twine in the shootout to give Nashville the win.
"I feel like we've been getting a lot of results, even if sometimes after the game, we feel like we could've played better," Rinne said. "So that's a good sign of a team. You know, everyone's demanding a lot from each other and asking a lot so that's good. I like that."
"We haven't played our best hockey yet," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "That's the exciting thing about our team is that we haven't played our best hockey game yet, and we still have guys who are coming back into the fold who have been out for a while and trying to get their feet under them. But our leadership group has done a really good job of setting the tone and making sure that we do all the right things to be competitive every night"
Video: MTL@NSH: Forsberg beat Niemi for power-play goal
The Predators streak of scoring at least four goals in five consecutive games came to an end on Wednesday night, in turn allowing the spotlight to shine a little brighter on the man between the pipes.
Steady as ever, goaltender Pekka Rinne collected his 12th win of the season by turning aside 27 saves through 65 minutes of time, and then denied all three Canadiens he faced in the shootout. Plus, the veteran netminder showed a side of his game that is rarely seen with some heightened involvement in a scrum in his crease by shoving Brendan Gallagher aside and then mixing it up with Karl Alzner.
But in true Rinne fashion, the Finn revealed afterward whatever anger was directed at his opponents quickly dissipated.
"I said sorry afterwards," Rinne smiled, recalling his run-in with Gallagher.
"I think [to still win a game like this is] the sign of a good team," the goaltender continued. "Everybody is expecting a lot from each other. I really like that as a player. Another good penalty kill effort to start the game, and we got it going a little bit better after that. But still a little bit of ups and downs. We thought about that game a lot. That's a desperate team, but anyway, that's obviously still a big two points."
Video: MTL@NSH: Rinne stops Galchenyuk's big chance
And as is the case with regularity, Rinne was there to make the clutch save when needed to give Nashville a boost on the bench and two more points in the column. But that's just another night on the ice for Rinne, whether he gets the accolades or not.
"He was outstanding tonight," Laviolette said of Rinne. "He played great right at the beginning. He had a huge save, backdoor, on the 5-on-3. Really from that point he gave us an opportunity to win and get under it once we killed those penalties - get ourselves a lead and try to build on that. Even through the course of the game, there were still some big saves he had to make, and he probably saved his best for last in the shootout."
Video: Forsberg, Rinne power Preds to 3-2 win over the Habs
Nashville has earned at least one point in 11 of its last 12 meetings with Montreal dating back to Nov. 14, 2009.
The Preds have now scored a power-play goal in all 10 of their home games this season, which is the second-longest streak in team history in the category. Nashville's franchise record for consecutive home games with a power-play goal is 11 and was set from Nov. 16-Dec. 26, 2006.
The Predators will now head out for their annual Fathers Trip with players bringing their dads along for the next two games, Friday at St. Louis and Sunday at Carolina.