Pekka Rinne, the skinny Finn himself, recorded his 56th career shutout tonight after blanking the Minnesota Wild in a 4-0 win in Bridgestone Arena. Additionally, four different Predators scored- three of them playing on the bottom two forward lines.
Tonight's game displayed a kind of balanced attack that every hockey team needs in order to ease the top lines' workload. Filip Forsberg missed his fourth straight game with a day-to-day lower-body injury, but the Preds don't seem to be stumbling in his absence. The team has scored 12 goals in the last three games (with a 2-0-1 record) and is now leading the NHL in goals-for at 42.
The first period was largely missable. The Wild outshot the Preds 13-4 in the first 20 minutes and neither team got a power play opportunity. Minnesota came out strong, but fortunately the Preds have Rinne.
The second period was perfectly bookended by goals from Miikka Salomaki (can you believe it) and Calle Jarnkrok. 37 seconds into the period, Salomaki scored his first goal of the season after picking up a no-look pass from Colton Sissons and sniping a far-side wrist shot past the reach of Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock. Roman Josi nabbed the secondary assist. With 29 seconds remaining in the period, Jarnkrok scored a nearly identical goal to Salomaki's. On an odd-man rush, Viktor Arvidsson dumped a drop pass to Jarnkrok who made the sweetest sound in hockey by ringing a wrist shot off the left goalpost and into Stalock's net. Ryan Johansen was credited with the secondary assist. Even with 40 minutes lapsed, a penalty on either team had yet to be called.
Craig Smith, also scoring his first of the year, buried the Wild even deeper several minutes into the third period. Almost totally unguarded, Smith materialized on Stalock's doorstep and easily put home a pass from Nick Bonino, making the score 3-0. Rocco Grimaldi got the secondary assist. On the power play after a tripping call on Salomaki, the Wild gave up the last best chance they had to get back into the game. Sissons, on another breakaway, flipped the puck up and over Stalock's right pad to cap the score at 4-0, Preds.
The Preds followed up Tuesday's 6-1 win nicely tonight. The only unfortunate news to come out was that Matt Duchene left the game in the second period with an apparent lower-body injury. The Preds' next game will be against the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Saturday.