Pekka Rinne stopped all 29 shots he faced as the Nashville Predators defeated the Boston Bruins by a 2-0 final at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday night. Rinne’s third shutout of the season gave the Preds their 27th victory of the campaign and 64 points overall.
“That was a big game, and it feels really good,” Rinne said. “It’s been awhile since my last shutout, and it’s just always a big win against Boston. We’ve struggled at home a little bit and thinking about that, that’s a big win too.”
Craig Smith scored his second goal in as many games when he got the Preds on the board first 2:51 into the contest. The winger deposited a rebound past Tuukka Rask and into the upper corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Then it was Forsberg who hit the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive season when he collected the puck at the right side of the cage and slid it past the pad of an outstretched Rask. The tally was Forsberg’s sixth in six games; he continues to pace the Preds in goals during the month of February.
"They’re playing really well right now; they were our most-noticeable line tonight,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the line of Smith, Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro. “They were in the offensive zone, and it didn’t matter what line they were playing against. When they got in there they were skating, they were working… and they did a lot of good things.”
That was all the support Rinne needed, as he turned aside shot after shot through the final 40 minutes. In addition, his teammates had a number of key blocks down the stretch, including a massive penalty kill with less than four minutes remaining in regulation. Defenseman Roman Josi led the Preds with six blocks and the team recorded 20 overall.
“Our guys have never shied away from blocking shots,” Laviolette said. “They’re good at it, and they’re willing to sacrifice their body. It’s big down the stretch. Six-on-four situations are tough. We have to stay away from that; it seems to be happening a few times recently, so I guess stay out of the box at the end of the game. The penalty kill was excellent, and the guys’ willingness to sacrifice was overcommitted. ”
Rinne Stops ‘Em All:
After two games off with Carter Hutton manning the net, Preds goaltender Pekka Rinne returned to form with his 39th career shutout. The Finnish netminder looked calm and collected throughout the evening, finding a way to see through traffic and smother rebounds when he had the opportunity on the way to a 2-0 win for Nashville.
“It’s great for him, and it’s great for us,” Ribeiro said. “To have a shutout, I think it’s good for his confidence. I’m sure he’s going to come back Saturday and try to pull the same thing.”
“You get some days of practice and when you get a physical and mental break it’s a tough position,” Laviolette said. “Everybody gets to come back to the bench and take their shifts off and get ready for the next shift and the goal needs to be to stay dialed in for the whole game – 60 or 65 minutes, whatever it is. To get a break for a couple days is good, he was able to work on some things, and he was really good tonight.”
Just as his peers showered their goaltender with praise, Rinne was quick to return the favor, complementing the 18 teammates in front of him that kept the Bruins at bay all night long.
“That’s the way we have to play down the stretch,” Rinne said. “I was just telling [Shea Weber] after the game that he blocked so many pucks tonight. [There were] some key blocks, great defensive plays. Guys sacrificing and our penalty kill was awesome tonight. I don’t think they had any really good chances on their power play, even though they are really dangerous. Overall, a really good team game. Like I said, I see us playing like that down the stretch and we’ll be in good shape.”
Gif of the Game:
Pekka Rinne slides across the crease to stop a David Pastrnak redirect off a Bruins 2-on-1 opportunity.
Filip Forsberg on Pekka Rinne:
“We know what he’s capable, and he showed everyone tonight. Just unbelievable; the saves that he’s making and just keeping us with a lead, especially in the second period. It’s just unbelievable to have him back there.”
Pekka Rinne’s shutout was his third of the season, the 39th of his career and Nashville’s fifth team shutout this season, including two in their last three games.
Defenseman Mattias Ekholm now has five assists in his last five games.
With two helpers against the Bruins, forward Mike Ribeiro recorded his fifth multi-assist game of the season. He has eight helpers in the last seven contests.
Defenseman Petter Granberg and forward Cody Bass were healthy scratches for Nashville.
The Predators finish up their three-game home stand on Saturday night when the Los Angeles Kings come to town. Nashville then hits the road for three contests, starting in Montreal on Monday.
Two Swedish Preds earn Stat of the Game honors after Filip Forsberg tallies his sixth goal in six game, and Mattias Ekholm dishes his fifth assist in five contests.
Infographic: Preds Maul the Bruins