Predators show some punch in successful start to road trip

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 11:17pm

Rich Clune scored the eighth penalty shot goal in franchise history, and Pekka Rinne recorded his 30th career shutout as the Nashville Predators opened a five-game road trip with a 4-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.

The penalties piled up for both sides in the third period, which included a combined six fighting majors in a span of 42 seconds and a total 70 penalty minutes. Included in all of that was the first NHL fighting major for undersized Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis.

Clune was awarded the penalty shot at 9:09 of the second period just after he exited the penalty box, where he served two minutes for roughing, gathered a loose puck and got free for a breakaway. Dallas defenseman Jordie Benn hooked him as he attempted to shot.

Clune beat goalie Kari Lehtonen with a shot between the pads and put the Predators ahead 3-0. Shea Weber scored on a power play earlier in the period, and Nick Spaling got the game’s first goal — his first in 11 games — at 12:16 of the first period.

Nashville’s last penalty shot was Nov. 9, 2011, at Anaheim. Martin Erat converted that one in a 4-2 victory.

The Predators have attempted 25 penalty shots all-time and have won seven of eight games in which they have had a successful attempt.

Nashville was outshot in every period of this one and 32-21 overall, but Rinne stopped every attempt. That matched his season-high for saves in a shutout. He also had 32 against Los Angeles on Feb. 7.

It was his fifth shutout of the season and matched his total for all of 2011-12, when he tied a franchise record with 73 appearances. He has played 24 games thus far in 2012-13.

Gabriel Bourque capped the scoring and tied Colin Wilson for the team lead with his seventh goal of the season. Wilson was placed on injured reserve a day earlier after he was injured Saturday against Minnesota.

Nashville’s injury issues continued to mount when center Paul Gaustad, who already has missed time twice this season, failed to finish due to an upper body injury.

David Legwand and Craig Smith had two assists each.