Predators center Mike Ribeiro rifled the game-winner past Rangers netminder Cam Talbot with 7:14 remaining in regulation. The goal was Ribeiro’s 11th of the season and his 700th career point.
“Ribs got his shooting percentage up again,” Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “He’s just money with those shots when he decides to take them.”
New York was less than two minutes away from entering the second intermission with a 1-0 lead, but two goals by Preds blueliners in 41 seconds put Nashville ahead 2-1 after 40 minutes. Roman Josi knotted the score with a drive from the high slot that went off the post and in.
“That was a huge goal,” Ribeiro said. “The second period wasn’t our greatest period for the first 15 minutes, and then Josi scored and Weber right after. That was huge, the big pairing came up big for us today. The [Rangers] scored in the third but those goals gave us energy and momentum.”
“It doesn’t seem like we’re down a goal when we get scored on,” Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “We just feel that if we keep playing for 60 minutes then it’ll work out.”
Despite the home team’s momentum to enter the final frame, the Rangers quickly tied the game once more with Ryan McDonagh’s goal, 1:37 into the third period. Ribeiro’s goal came roughly 11 minutes later to put the Predators ahead for good.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne recorded 30 saves for his 30th win of the season, and his first since returning from a sprained knee that kept him out of action for 22 days.
“I think it’s just been more getting used to the timing of the game again and dealing with tips and traffic,” Rinne said. “I thought today I felt a lot better, but there’s still room for improvement to be sure...I thought New York really came out hard, and they played a fast game. It was a challenge for us, but timely goals helped us today.”
Rick Nash tallied his NHL-leading, 33rd goal of the campaign to put the Rangers up 1-0 in the second. The power-play score ended a streak of 26-consecutive penalties killed by the Preds.
Game-Winner, 700 Club:
After sitting on 699 total points for 10 days, Predators center Mike Ribeiro notched his 700th career point in dramatic fashion. The Montreal, Quebec, native took a feed from Seth Jones and wired the puck past Talbot off the wing in the third period. The play-making forward is often known more for his passing ability than tendency to shoot the biscuit, but on Saturday, Ribeiro’s shot left no doubt.
“Sometimes my teammates laugh at me because I don’t shoot hard enough,” Ribeiro said with a laugh. “I’ve always thought if someone has a harder shot than me then I might as well give it to them, but it was the right time for me to shoot it today.
“[700 career points] is a pretty big deal. When I started back home, people didn’t think I was fast enough or big enough to even play in the League. Now 15 years later I’ve been able to hit 700 points.”
Ribeiro’s strike came with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest and stood as the eventual game-winner. An easy storyline to be sure, as the Predators head coach teased after the game.
“Nice story for you guys; great for Mike,” Laviolette said. “He is having a super year for us. It was a big goal against a good team. And for that to be the game winner, is nice.”
“It was a beautiful shot, and 700 points, that’s a pretty good career right there, and he’s still going,” Preds D-man Mattias Ekholm said. “He’s a great guy and a good goal-scorer when he wants to be.”
The point total makes Ribeiro just the 221st player in NHL history to accomplish the feat; the forward also has the 143rd most assists in the League all-time. With 487 helpers on his resume, the 34-year-old isn’t far from hitting another significant mark as well.
“I think I’m waiting more for 500 assists than a goal [to reach 700 points],” Ribeiro said. “I don’t shoot often, but this one went in and it’s a big two points for us.”
Klein Back in the Music City:
On Saturday afternoon, New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein returned to Bridgestone Arena for the first time as a visitor. The D-man spent over 10 years in the Predators organization, including seven seasons skating in Nashville, until being traded on Jan. 22 of 2014.
This season, Klein leads the Blueshirts defensemen in points on the campaign with 18.
“He’s such a great guy, one of the best guys I’ve been around in the locker room,” Ekholm said of his former defensive partner, Klein. “He’s a funny guy to be around and plays really hard too. He got the standing ovation today, and I think he really deserves that. I hope he enjoyed his first time back here.”
The Predators honored the Rangers defenseman with a video tribute during the first TV timeout of the first period. The 40-second highlight clip featured top moments from Klein’s involvement in the Nashville community and most memorable plays while with the Preds. (Watch the video here)
“It was really great to see him,” Weber said of Klein following the game. “He’s having a great year. I think goals-wise, he’s either at his career-high or past it. Just to see the way he was playing tonight was fun to see. It’ll be great to talk to him again here in a few minutes.”
The Predators improved to 4-0-0 in matinee games (contests starting before 3 p.m.) with their 3-2 win on Saturday. The club now flies to Florida for a meeting with the Panthers on Sunday at 2 p.m. (CT). Nashville is 5-0-2 in the front half of back-to-back games, and 1-3-2 in the second-half portion. The team has four remaining sets of two games in two nights this season.
With four points against the Rangers, the Predators defensive corps has 134 points on the season as a group - the most in the NHL.
Preds forward Colin Wilson, who left the game with an upper-body injury, is listed as day-to-day.