The Nashville Predators used virtually every bit of the ice surface to defeat the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.
Well almost. The ice in the net behind goalie Pekka Rinne remained undisturbed throughout the contest, the Predators’ first at home in more than two weeks.
Rinne made 32 saves and added to his franchise record with his 26th career shutout in a 3-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. It was Nashville’s fourth straight triumph overall and their second in a week over the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
“It’s always fun [to get a shutout],” Rinne said. “It’s never easy. You always appreciate when you get it and I always enjoy them, at least [for a] night.”
The first two goals were the result of attacks that extended deep into the offensive end and spread the Kings’ defense so far that there was room for Nashville’s forwards to work.
On the first, David Legwand carried the puck around the net and fed a backhand pass to Gabriel Bourque for a one-timer.
On the second, Kevin Klein took the puck below the goal line, fired a pass in front, where two Predators had a chance at it. Brandon Yip fanned on the first attempt, but Colin Wilson drove the slot and easily hit the back of the net.
“You create chances by skating in the other peoples’ zone,” Wilson said. “… They don’t know who to take and that opens things up. That’s been crucial for us. … It’s been great and, obviously, you could see it turning into goals [Thursday] night.”
Wilson added a power-play goal in the second period, which gave him six points (two goals, four assists) in his last three games. Klein added a pair of assists.
Other than converting those chances, though, the Predators’ offense did not do a whole lot.
Nashville was outshot 32-14 overall, including 20-5 in the second period. The shot total was one more than the season-low and the third of fewer than 15 in the last four games.
“In the second period we just didn’t manage the puck very well and we ended up with some really long shifts and they just threw a lot of pucks [at the net],” coach Barry Trotz said. “We just collapsed and defended in the middle and blocked some shots. … We just spend way too much time in our own end.”
Through it all, though, the area directly behind Rinne was never touched.
“Obviously, Pekks is a workhorse back there,” Klein said. “He’s probably the best goalie in the league. He’s great at fighting through that traffic and finding those pucks.”
• Briefly: Defenseman Shea Weber got his first point of the season, an assist on Wilson’s second goal. The nine-game scoreless streak matched the longest of the Nashville captain’s career. … Center Paul Gaustad played in his 500th career game. He played his first 479 with Buffalo and has appeared in 21 for Nashville since he was acquired in a trade last season. … The Predators have scored first in seven of their 10 games this season. They have earned at least a point each time they have done so.