The Predators put a trio on the board, and Pekka Rinne was perfect.
Rinne’s 350th career win – and his 28th career shutout – gave Nashville a 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night at PNC Arena. It’s Nashville’s first triumph over the Hurricanes in their last seven tries, and the result gives the Preds points in four-straight games.
The Preds haven’t always found themselves on the right side of the ledger in recent outings, but the efforts have been there. Friday was a continuation of that, and the group was rewarded with a gritty road win.
“We’ve been playing pretty good hockey lately,” Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “Guys are competing really hard and working really hard. Coming in here, when you play this team, you have to work, you have to skate and you have to compete in order to have a chance of being successful. I thought our guys were good.”
“It’s a huge win for us,” Preds forward Rocco Grimaldi said. “They had more jump the first five or 10 minutes, and Peks stood on his head. He made some really big saves to keep us in the game, then we pop in a couple, and the game kind of settles down a little more in our favor. It’s a tough team to play against, especially in their building, and I thought we did a pretty good job.”
Eight minutes into the contest, Grimaldi gave the visitors the game’s first goal when he caught up to a perfectly placed lob pass from Nick Bonino and beat Petr Mrazek on a breakaway. Ten minutes later, Filip Forsberg went to work in the Carolina zone and sent a cross-ice feed to Calle Jarnkrok, who wristed home his ninth of the season to give the Preds a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes.
The Predators’ lead hit 3-0 early in the second period. Mattias Ekholm went forward, backward, threw in a spin move and put a shot at the net that Austin Watson redirected into the twine at 3:28.
“It was just a great team effort,” Watson said. “To get that zero on the board for Peks means a lot to us.”
The scoring stopped at three because Rinne clearly wasn’t going to allow a goal on Friday night. The Finnish netminder was at his best in the first period, stopping 12 shots from the Hurricanes, including a high-quality opportunity off the stick of Teuvo Teravainen. Rinne’s bounce-back performance allowed Nashville to build a lead – something they’ve played with exclusively in their three recent wins – and slowly take control of the game.
“Tonight, I got off to a good start, and I think that was the key for us,” Rinne said. “That felt really good… I really think the last four games, we’ve played better defensively, too. Just more sacrificing, [and] bodies blocking shots, forwards collapsing and things like that. I think it makes makes mine and [Juuse Saros’s] job easier.”
“What can you say? He’s a legend,” Grimaldi said of Rinne. “He’s one of the best of all time, and it’s honestly awesome to play in front of him. I’ve said it before, but not only is he just such a good goalie, but he’s an even better person… He has been around so long, and he’s still such a nice and humble person. He’s definitely someone I can look up to as well.”
Next, the Predators will complete their first set of back-to-back games this season, as they travel to South Florida to face the Panthers (Saturday at 6 p.m. CT), and if they continue on their current trajectory, they might just find themselves with another two points in 24 hours.
“We’re playing the right way, every line’s contributing, whether that’s scoring or just getting pucks deep, checking, blocking shots – everyone’s contributing in their own way,” Grimaldi said. “Our goalies both have been awesome, so our team’s definitely trending in the right direction, and we have to keep that going tomorrow in Florida.”
Rocco Grimaldi scored his first career game-winning goal and pushed his point streak to three games (1g-2a).
Yannick Weber re-entered the lineup in favor of Matt Irwin on Friday night in Carolina. Kyle Turris was also scratched for the Preds.
The second half of Nashville’s back-to-back set comes tomorrow night in Florida against the Panthers, a 6 p.m. CT puck drop in Sunrise.