Playing at home for the first time in two weeks, the Nashville Predators quickly settled in to the offensive end Saturday. And there they stayed.
Nashville set franchise records for shots in a period, shots in a game and largest shot advantage in a game, and even an offensive-minded player such as Steve Sullivan registered more shots in a single contest than at any other time in his career.
While all but one of the Predators’ 18 skaters eventually got at least one puck on net, Sullivan was the only one who actually got a puck in the net – and he did so twice. The result was a 2-0 Nashville victory before 15,604 at Sommet Center despite a 55-20 edge in shots.
“I think it’s been building for the last three games,” Sullivan, who was held without a point in the previous four contests, said. “We’ve been really dominant in the other teams’ zone, we’ve created a lot of havoc, we’ve had a lot of puck possession time and threw a lot of pucks on net.”
Sullivan converted a rebound chance after one of his own shots for the game’s first goal at 10:48 of the opening period. Then he drove home the rebound of a Shea Weber shot three seconds into a two-man advantage at 12:59 of the third.
In between Montreal goalie Carey Price stopped a whole lot of rubber as he set a career-high and tied a Canadiens’ franchise record with 53 saves.
“They threw a lot of pucks at the net,” Price said. “Records aside, we were here to get two points, not a record.”
Sullivan’s second goal came on the Predators’ 52nd shot, which equaled their previous single-game high set Oct. 14, 1999 against San Jose. It also was the 10th of his team-high 11 shots, as he had at least six more than any other player for either team and three more than he had in any of his previous 781 career contests.
The first attempt of the night came 21 seconds into the contest from Jerred Smithson, and Martin Erat recorded the next before the game’s first stoppage.
The Predators eventually outshot the Canadiens 24-4 in the first period. In so doing they surpassed their previous bests of 23 shots in a period (Feb. 28, 2004 against the New York Rangers) and shot advantage in a period (16, accomplished twice).
“After the first, I asked some of the guys, ‘Did we really shoot the puck that much?’” J.P. Dumont said. “… We had a really good start and never looked back after that.”
They added another 18 in the second period and raised the total to 42, which was one more than they had in any previous contest this season. From there, they finished with 13 more in the third.
Defenseman Ryan Suter was the only one outside of goalie Pekka Rinne, who did not have a shot on net.
“I was just enjoying the show,” Rinne said. “… I don’t know the reason for why we were so good, but … for them Carey Price was great. The game could have been out of their hands very quick, but he kept them in it.”
Montreal’s shot total through two periods was 10. It managed to double that number over the final 20 minutes but still fell 35 short of the Predators, who never had outshot an opponent by more than 30.
“What I was impressed with was the balance right through our lineup,” coach Barry Trotz said. “After the second period, every line had at least five shots. (We had) balance in terms of the chances they were generating.
“… Obviously we’d like to have a little more finish.”
• With the victory the Predators improved to 9-8-1 on the season.
The last time they were above .500 was when they were 2-1-0 following a 1-0 loss to Buffalo, the first of six straight defeats (five in regulation) that dropped them to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
“Everybody remembers the six-game losing streak,” Rinne said. “I guess that was a little bit of a turning point. Everybody realized what we need to do, and what we need to do better.”
• The shutout was the ninth of Rinne’s career and the second this season. Only twice has he made fewer saves in holding an opponent scoreless.
“My job was just to do my job,” he said. “I didn’t have to do anything extra.”
• Video coach Robert Bouchard spent the third period on the bench, a first for a staff member who has been with the franchise since its inaugural season.
Bouchard is a Montreal native.