CALGARY — Two days after a rough outing against the Vancouver Canucks, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne bounced back with an outstanding effort against the Calgary Flames.
Rinne stopped all 33 shots he faced in a first-star performance on Saturday afternoon to lead the Predators to a 2-0 win over the Flames in front of 19,289 fans.
“I think we all were mentally prepared and just ready to go,” said Rinne, who was pulled from Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Canucks after what he called a “rough start” when he gave up four goals on 16 shots in the first period.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he had no doubt that Rinne would bounce back with a better performance.
“Last performance he was fine,” Trotz said. “It wasn’t anything about Pekka Rinne, it was just a lot of bad luck. We were tipping pucks in and they scored one on a deflection. When you need a win, Pekks is always the guy who can stand up and give you a real good performance and he did tonight.”
Niclas Bergfors and Sergei Kostitsyn scored for the Predators (3-3-1), who snapped a four-game winless streak.
“It’s two points,” said Nashville captain Shea Weber. “We found a way. It wasn’t pretty, we didn’t generate a whole lot, but you know what? We won.”
Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made 12 saves in a losing cause for the Flames (2-4-1), who have compiled a 1-1-1 record on their current six-game homestand.
“We’re playing pretty good hockey and we’re starting to get that consistent play, but we’re not getting results,” said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. “Over the last little bit, we haven’t got all the points out of the games that we wanted, but we’re starting to play the way we need to. If we stay with that, we’ll get ourselves on a hot streak here.”
The Flames carried the majority of the play in the first period as they outshot the Predators 8-3.
Rinne’s best save was when he kicked out his left pad to turn aside a shot from the slot off the stick of Calgary forward Olli Jokinen.
Although he wasn’t tested much in the opening period, Kiprusoff had to be sharp to make a pad save on a shot by Nashville’s David Legwand late in the period.
Bergfors opened the scoring for Nashville 2:34 into the second period. It was his first goal as a member of the Predators since signing with Nashville in the off-season.
Defenceman Jack Hillen’s shot first deflected off Flames forward David Moss and then Bergfors before bouncing into the net behind Kiprusoff.
Calgary appeared to tie the game a short time later when Tim Jackman swatted the puck past Rinne. The goal was disallowed because Tom Kostopoulos interfered with Rinne, impeding him from making the save.
“We were hoping it would be good,” Iginla said. “Talking to Jacks and TK, they thought they were just going for the puck, but that’s part of it. On another night that counts. Some nights it doesn’t.”
The Flames continued to press in the third and had a great chance to tie the contest when forward Lee Stempniak swatted a rebound on net towards Rinne, who turned aside the scoring attempt with another outstanding pad save.
“I saw the puck laying there and I knew somebody was going to get his stick (on it) pretty soon,” Rinne said. “I was able to get my pad there and was lucky to save that.”
A short time later, Jokinen had a wide open net to shoot at, but Nashville defenceman Jonathan Blum did a nice job to reach behind him to block the shot.
“It hit the defenceman’s stick or post,” Jokinen said. “The puck kind of came slow. I don’t know if I would have had time to take it more towards the net. There was a lot to shoot at. This time it didn’t go in.”
Rinne commended Blum for his efforts to keep the puck out of the net.
“That’s one of those game-changing plays,” Rinne said. “That puck went through me. I thought that for sure it’s in the back of the net. Blum came to the rescue and made an outstanding play and saved my bottom right there.”
The Predators got the insurance marker they were looking for at 14:36 of the third when Smith set up Kostitsyn for an easy tap-in goal.