Pekka Rinne stopped all 32 shots he faced and the Nashville Predators defeated the Calgary Flames by a 2-0 final on Saturday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s the second consecutive shutout for the Preds, after a 4-0 victory in Edmonton on Thursday. The win gives the Preds points in seven consecutive outings, as well as a three-game sweep through Western Canada.
The Predators haven’t lost a game in regulation in the month of December and the club now has 16 victories in their last 20 tries, and after completing this three-game excursion, Nashville is six points richer.
“A full-team effort again,” Nashville center Ryan Johansen said of the win. “The trip hasn’t been perfect by any means, but we played a lot of good hockey. We started off right in Vancouver and found ways to win the last couple games, so a lot of credit to every guy in here. Every guy was contributing throughout this trip, so it was a fun three games for us.”
After a scoreless opening frame, Nashville continued their second-period dominance with two tallies in the stanza, courtesy of Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala. The latter marker, assisted by Kyle Turris, extended a pair of point streaks to seven games each for Fiala and Turris. As a line, Turris, Fiala and Craig Smith have now combined for 49 points across 17 games since Turris arrived in Nashville.
Not to be lost in the scoring was a solid effort from the Nashville penalty kill in the middle frame, with the Preds fending off a five-minute major penalty taken by Austin Watson, which included a full, two-minute 5-on-3 advantage embedded within.
Another successful third period followed, and the Preds closed it out with sound defense and clutch saves from Rinne to finish the trip with just one goal allowed.
“Somehow, we find a way to win, and I think that’s the biggest thing, just win,” Preds forward Filip Forsberg said. “That’s what you try to do in this League.”
How Sweep It Is:
Vancouver? Win. Edmonton? Same deal. Calgary? You can probably guess.
Three stops in Western Canada brought about the same result each time as the Predators collected victories over the Canucks, Oilers and Flames within a four-day span. And while Ryan Johansen admitted the trip wasn’t perfect, the six additional points in the standings are all the Predators need to see to confirm the success they’ve had over the past four days.
“[That’s] three teams that are fighting for their lives, and to be able to have two shutouts and one goal against – one goal in three games – I guess that says a lot about our group right now and the direction we’re going,” Johansen said.
“To go into this trip on the road you, want to be above .500 and this kind of trip is really a confidence booster,” Rinne said.
Sure, the Predators tallied a total of 13 goals in three games to finish out their road trip, but it was the stinginess at the other end of the ice – just one goal allowed, including back-to-back shutouts – that will end up being the story of the journey.
Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne combined for consecutive blankings of their opponents, just the second time in franchise history two different goaltenders have posted back-to-back shutouts.
Whether it was the men in the blue paint or the players in front of them, the Predators hardly gave the opposition anything, just another reason why Nashville continues to sit atop the Central Division.
“That’s pretty amazing that as a team we gave up one goal [in] three games,” Rinne said. “But it speaks volumes about this team and the way we’re playing right now.”
“Our goaltending was outstanding on the trip,” Laviolette said. “You think about it, it’s a really difficult trip with the flights, the time zones and getting in at whatever time in the morning, the goalies were sharp. That’s just flatout what happened. They just played lights out for three games.
“Our guys did a really good job right in front of the goalie. I thought the same thing tonight as well. The first period was a little bit loose, but I thought we did a really good job in that zone just wanting to clean things up.”
With an assist on Ryan Johansen’s goal, Viktor Arvidsson recorded his 100th career point.
Preds Assistant Equipment Manager Jeff Camelio worked his 1,500th professional hockey game when he stepped behind the bench on Saturday night in Calgary.
With the Western Canada trip now complete, the Predators will head home to host the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday before a trip to Dallas on Dec. 23 to round out the schedule leading up to the Christmas holiday.
Pete Weber’s Postgame Report