Three game winning streaks are great, but the Predators wanted a fourth. Colin Wilson had 2 goals and Rinne recorded his first shutout of the season as Nashville walloped the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 in front of a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd.
Wilson, who now has six points (2G-4A) in his last three games (matching his longest career streak), is now tied for the team lead in goals along with Martin Erat.
Nashville found themselves pushed in their end early in the first period with Los Angeles swarming around the puck looking for a chance to score. While disconcerting, the entire team has seemingly built a level of trust and a collection of chemistry that gets them through some of the more difficult moments on the ice.
“I think our team is coming together a bit. We’re starting to figure out how to score and get pucks and bodies to the net,” said Colin Wilson. “That’s kind of what happened on those goals, someone got a shot away and either it’s a rebound or it’s going right in.
Nearly three minutes into the game, Legwand found Gabriel Bourque front-and-center in front of Jonathan Quick who lasered it home for his second of the season, giving Nashville the early 1-0 lead. Bourque would finish the first period with 4 of Nashville’s 7 shots on net.
Nashville and Los Angeles calmed the game down after that, playing a chess game for the remainder of the period. Stat-wise, everything was nearly split down the middle for both teams with the Predators leading slightly in hits/faceoffs/goals while the Kings lead in shots.
With the second period underway, Nashville remained on the tentative side of the puck. However, it would only take them 7 minutes to extend their lead. Kevin Klein took a Brandon Yip pass, drove it down the right side of the board, and found Colin Wilson in front of Jonathan Quick who banged it home, giving Nashville a 2-0 lead.
After a heavy hit from a Kings player on Colin Wilson dropped him to the ice, the Predators forward would retaliate in the way he knew best: on the scoreboard. Six minutes after scoring his first and only five seconds into a powerplay, Wilson put home a Shea Weber rebounded shot to make it 3-0.
“I love scoring at home, it’s a lot more fun, you get to ‘celly’. It was great, great plays. Klein made a great play there and good job by [Weber] getting it up front,” said Wilson
The Predators ended up being outshot in the second period by a total of 20-5, yet the score remained 3-0 with Nashville converting at a 25% ratio for all of their shots. Rinne, to that point, had already made plenty of incredible saves to keep Nashville’s lead intact.
While there wasn’t any scoring in the third period, the play become centered around a possible shut-out bid for Pekka Rinne. Although he only saw 4 shots in the entire third, the chances the Kings had made it seem like a goal could have emerged at any point in the game. Regardless, Rinne’s shutout bid was complete after his 4 stop third period and 32-save game.
The big bugaboo, however, reared it’s head tonight in total shot count. While Nashville at the bottom of the league in shots on goal per game, it’s not too much of a concern since the Predators are recording plenty of offense to “cover the spread”, if you will.
“Yeah, offensively you want to spark some things up. We didn’t have too many shots tonight, but it’s nice we’re bearing on our chances now and creating that offense. Certainly it’s something to build off of,” said Wilson. “We were doing better in getting those shots on net, but I think today after we got that lead we played a bit of rope-a-dope as opposed to going hard [to the net]. I think we can obviously do a better job on that. It’s not too concerning, we’ve been playing a better game.”
In the end, though, winning games is all that matters for the Predators. Now fifth place in the Western Conference after tonight’s win, Nashville will leave for Minnesota tonight before coming back home for a nice homestand. Wilson understands that for the team to continue to win, it has to learn as well.
“We’re buying into the team system, getting pucks deep, and get our forecheck going while playing that hard-nosed hockey. I think at the same time, we’re scoring on a lot of our chances so I like that combination,” said Colin Wilson, “I think when you start winning, the confidence starts to help down the road.”
Barry Trotz came up with a real gem during his post-game press conference when asked about whether he was concerned about Weber scoring points or not. Transcribed below, you can also listen to the clip as well:
“I haven’t been concerned at all. See, no, you stop right there. You’re saying he isn’t playing well. I’m saying he’s playing Norris Trophy calibur and I don’t care if he gets any points, you do obviously. I don’t. Shea cares about winning and we’ve been winning, and that’s the most important thing. He plays every night against the top guys in the league, he hasn’t scored a goal last year in the first ten games and he ended up with nineteen/eighteen last year.
I am not worried about him, that’s the end of the subject. He is a top defensemen, there wouldn’t be another defensemen in the league I would trade him for and I don’t give a crap if he gets a point. He doesn’t either. We just worry about winning and that’s what we’re doing. That’s the end I’m going to talk about that.”
Powerplay – 1 for 3, 33%
Penalty Kill – 3 for 3, 100%
Best Play of the Game: Gabriel Bourque’s snipe from in between the faceoff dots caught Quick off-guard and gave Nashville the early 1-0 lead
Worst Play of the Game: N/A
My Three Stars (voted by me):
#1: – Pekka Rinne
#2: – Colin Wilson
#3: – Kevin Klein
POST-GAME NOTES (From Nashville Predators PR Staff)
With their first victory on home ice in 2012-13, the Predators have recorded four straight wins overall and have earned points in 8 of 10 games played (5-2-3).
The Predators have not allowed an even-strength goal since their January 28 matchup against Phoenix (12 full periods and two overtime sessions), outscoring the opposition 9-0 in that span.
Nashville allowed the Kings only three power-play opportunities – the eighth time in 10 games that they’ve allowed three or fewer power-plays in a game.
The Predators have scored first in seven of their 10 games, earning at least a point in each of those contest (4-0-3).
Paul Gaustad played in his 500th NHL regular-season game. Gaustad went 15-of-22 (68%) in the faceoff circle in the game, the fourth straight game in which he’s been above 60%.
Pekka Rinne recorded his first shutout of the season and 26th of his career. Over his last four games he has a save percentage of 0.974 and a goals-against average of 0.97.
Colin Wilson now has six points (2G-4A) in his last three games, matching his longest career streak. Tonight was also the second multi-goal game of his career (Dec. 28, 2010).
Shea Weber picked up his first point of the season (1A) on Wilson’s second goal of the evening
Kevin Klein is now +6 in his last four games.
Brandon Yip and Gabriel Bourque each have three points in their last four games.
Rich Clune’s fighting major at the 2:15 mark was his fourth such penalty in nine games for the Predators. He leads the Preds with 24 PIM.
Nashville is back in action Saturday night as they take on the Wild in Minnesota. Game is at 7:00pm CT.