Rinne, Preds battle Canadiens in Nashville
The Predators showed goaltender Pekka Rinne just have year contract extension on Nov. 3. That new deal was likely met by a collective groan from the Canadiens.
Backed by Rinne, Nashville will try to extend its shutout streak over Montreal in this evening's clash at Bridgestone Arena. The contest opens a five-game homestand for the Predators and will serve as the 1,000th game in franchise history.
Rinne has been a big part of the latter portion of that narrative. A Vezina Trophy nominee a season ago, Rinne is 8-4-2 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .929 save percentage this year. His three shutouts are tied for the league lead and he started each of Nashville's first 13 games before getting a break in Tuesday's loss to the Kings.
Rinne returned to net on Wednesday and made 31 saves in a 4-2 win over the Ducks.
Nashville shut out Montreal in each of the last two meetings, with Rinne making 50 saves in that span. He turned aside 30 shots in last year's 3-0 win at Montreal after having made 20 saves the previous season in a victory over the Canadiens at home. That snapped the Predators' two-game home series losing streak.
Rinne and Craig Smith both stepped up in Wednesday's win, with the rookie scoring twice and notching an assist in the two-goal victory. Smith's assist came on Colin Wilson's tally 4:54 into the game that staked the Predators to a quick 2-0 lead.
Nashville improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games.
"It's great anytime you get a good start," said Smith. "That was one of the things we wanted to fix from [Tuesday's loss], we had kind of a slow start."
Smith's three points gave him 14 on the season and tied him for the team lead with David Legwand, who missed the game due to an upper-body injury. Patric Hornqvist ended with three assists and Martin Erat scored on a penalty shot versus Anaheim's Jonas Hiller.
"I saw [Hiller] dropped the glove and I tried to go high glove," Erat said of the penalty shot.
Montreal also overcame injuries to record a 3-2 overtime victory in Phoenix.
Carey Price made 32 saves and Josh Gorges scored the game-winner 1:45 into overtime. Brian Gionta ended with a goal and an assist and Travis Moen also scored as the Canadiens avoided a third straight loss with their fifth victory in seven games.
Already without Scott Gomez (upper body) and Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body) due to injury, Mike Cammalleri sat out Thursday's win due to an lower-body issue suffered on Tuesday versus Edmonton.
"When you have guys that are hurt you need for everyone to pitch in," Price told Montreal's website. "It was nice to see Josh finally get paid off for all his hard work."
Both Cammalleri and Kostitsyn are questionable for tonight's game.