The Nashville Predators evened their home record on Saturday night at 5-5-3 for the season with a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night. The victory snapped a four game losing streak on home ice.
This season has been anything but typical for a Predators team that has had an average record of 26-11-4 at the Bridgestone Arena since the NHL lockout. The team has one of the better records on the road (9-6-1) but has played inconsistently at home.
After righting his ship with a win in Columbus on Thursday, that snapped a personal six game losing streak, Pekka Rinne was pleased to win at home, while stopping 15 of 17 Ducks' shots. "It was big. It's always fun to play in this building and for our fans it was a big win."
"For us too, we are right there battling for the playoff spot and it's going to be like this until the end of the season. Every game is so big, especially at home. We've been playing pretty well on the road and now it's time to kick it up a notch at home."
The game was unnerving for Rinne who did not face his first shot from Anaheim until the 14:55 mark in the opening period. "It's different for sure. I don't want to complain when we play that well and don't give up any shots. I have to adjust and be ready and stay focused. It's a challenge when you don't face many shots."
Anaheim features several of the games' top offensive threats with Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry, future Hall of Famer, Teemu Selanne, and Bobby Ryan playing top minutes for the Ducks.
Rinne is constantly aware of the threat. "You know when they have their top guys on the ice that at any second there can be a really good scoring chance so you have to be focused. We did a really good job tonight, limiting their chances and not giving up too much.
Rinne held the top scorers in check, but yielded tough goals to lesser threats, Francois Beauchemin and Andrew Gordon, who had scored only one goal this season.
The Predators scoring came from Nick Spaling, Roman Josi, his first in the NHL, and Jordin Tootoo who also added an assist. Josi's goal was on the man-advantage, which has been a strength for this year's team that is now tied for fourth in the NHL with a 20.4% power play conversion rate.
Ex-Predator Dan Ellis allowed three goals on 28 Predators' shots. He was complementary of the Preds after the game. "They play as a team. That is the biggest thing about them. It has always been there. It's hard to beat them when they have 20 guys out there all pulling in the same direction."
The win was a relief for Barry Trotz who had seen his Predators out-play their opponents in the last two home games but come away with losses. "We've got one of the best road records and we’ve always had a good home record, and at this point it’s not good enough if we’re going to want to do anything this year as a group."
"That’s a focus, to make this a tough place to come back and play. This place has been tough to play for a number of years and we've got to get it back to that level."
The Predators will have that opportunity three times in the coming week as they host Calgary on Tuesday, Detroit on Thursday, and the St Louis Blues next Saturday night.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass