Rinne leads Predators over Jets 3-0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Despite their power play struggles, the Predators found a way to take down their Central Division rival.
Pekka Rinne made 29 saves to lead Nashville to a 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
“I’m just excited to play against these guys,” Rinne said. “I think that was a good indication of how it’s going to be for the rest of the season, pretty emotional and pretty physical games. There’s a lot of speed and a lot of skill on the ice.”
The shutout was the 52nd of Rinne’s career. Ryan Hartman had a goal and an assist and Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen also scored for Nashville, which improved its record on the young season to 3-1-0.
“He had to make some tough saves along the way,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought he stayed really focused and really sharp through the whole game, despite the circumstances, really sharp from start to finish.”
Connor Hellebuyck made 27 saves for the Jets, now 2-2-0.
The Predators had the decided advantage in power plays in the game but came up empty in nine opportunities, including separate two-man advantages of 18 seconds and 1:35 in the second period. Winnipeg could not convert on either of their two power plays in the game.
“There’s not much you can do in terms of personnel. you’ve got half your team gassed after two and half your team frozen on the bench,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We had half the group drinking hot chocolate on the bench just trying to stay warm.”
The Central Division’s top two teams from a season ago met for the first time since the Jets ousted the then defending Western Conference champion Predators in a tough seven-game series in the second round of the playoffs.
Hartman scored the game’s first goal at 3:02 of the second period.
With the puck just inside the Nashville blue line, Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot sent an ill-advised cross-ice pass toward partner Dustin Byfuglien. Hartman stepped in front of the pass in stride and headed the other way. With a step on Byfuglien, Hartman shielded the big defenseman with his hip and beat Hellebuyck with a backhand on the stick side for the unassisted goal.
“You know he’s going to try to get around to try and get a stick pick, so you kind of bait him to one side and wait for him to come over and bite,” Hartman said of his move on Byfuglien. “Then you move it to the other side. I was just trying to keep it away from him.”
Rinne’s best saves came with the Predators short-handed. The first was at 14:17 of the second when he denied an Adam Lowry attempt from the low slot, one of just two shots the Jets put on Rinne in the middle frame. Late in the third, Rinne turned aside a Blake Wheeler shot on a breakaway.
“You get to work on your PK,” Jets center Mark Scheifele said of the prolonged time the team spent short-handed. “We did a good job. We made some big plays and Bucky made a lot of big saves.”
Josi doubled the Predators lead at 7:58 of the third with a slap shot from the high slot. It was the first goal of the season for Nashville’s captain.
Johansen scored at 14:42 of the third with a nifty backhand tucked just underneath the crossbar from just outside the crease.
Notes: The Predators have yet to score a power-play goal this season, going a combined 0-15 through four games. ... Nashville D Ryan Ellis played his 400th career NHL game. ... Predators D Mattias Ekholm was assessed the first fighting major of his NHL career. ... The Jets have not allowed a power-play goal against in three of their four games played this season.
Jets: Host Carolina on Sunday.
Predators: Host New York Islanders on Saturday.