NASHVILLE – After coming within one game of setting an NHL record for road wins to start the season, the New Jersey Devils have dropped two consecutive games away from the Garden State.
Mike Santorelli and Martin Erat scored shootout goals, and Jason Arnott had two goals in regulation in the Nashville Predators’ 3-2 victory over the Devils on Thursday night.
The loss came on the heels of New Jersey’s first road defeat Monday night at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Devils came within one win of tying Buffalo’s NHL record of 10 straight road wins to start a season.
Pekka Rinne stopped two of New Jersey’s three shooters in the tiebreaker for his fourth consecutive victory and eighth in nine decisions. New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur took the loss after winning his first three shootouts of the season.
Santorelli has converted on both of his shootout attempts this season, while Erat’s goal was his first after being denied in his first two attempts.
Arnott opened the scoring at 4:44 of the opening period. The former Devils player beat New Jersey’s Brian Rolston to a puck in the lower part of the right faceoff circle and directed a seemingly harmless shot on goal that slipped between Brodeur’s pads.
“I was more worried to tell (Rolston) that he was there than looking at the puck,” Brodeur said. “He surprised both of us by whacking it from there.”
Zach Parise tied it at 8:35 of the first. From the left point, defenceman Colin White sent a wrist shot toward the Nashville goal. Skating through the slot, Parise was able to deflect the puck by Rinne just inside the far post.
Arnott struck again at 1:09 of the third with a power-play goal off of a deflection of J.P. Dumont’s shot. Arnott had been held without a goal in his last nine games.
“Arnott has been getting some really good chances, but nothing has been going in,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Arnott was getting a touch frustrated, but he kept working.”
The Predators are 9-0-0 when scoring a power-play goal this season, and have their first four-game winning streak of the 2009-2010 campaign.
When he was a member of the Devils in 2000, Arnott scored the Stanley Cup-winning winning goal in double overtime in Game 6 against the Dallas Stars.
“It was just one of those tight games where they had some opportunities and we had some opportunities as well,” Arnott said. “Fortunately we came out with two points.”
Parise again answered back for the Devils at 4:39 of the third. Behind the Nashville goal, Dean McAmmond sent a pass to Parise who was in front of Rinne. With Nashville’s Jerred Smithson on his back, Parise was able to jam the puck in.
The goal was Parise’s team-leading 13th of the season, and seventh in his last six games. His six game goal streak ties his career high.
Rinne denied Parise in the shootout when the big Finn was able to get his glove in the way of Parise’s high backhand.
“I think I did it too slow,” Parise said of his shootout attempt. “I’m not taking anything away from him because he made a good save, but I wasn’t happy about how I did the move.”
Travis Zajac was the lone Devil to convert in the shootout when he lost control of the puck but managed to get a wild backhand by Rinne on the far side.
“They are one of the best teams in the league and Brodeur is one of the best goalies of all time, so obviously it is a big deal for me,” Rinne said. “It’s never just a goalie’s win, but I’ll take it.”
NOTES: McAmmond made his Devils debut Thursday night. … Zajac had his 100th career assist. … Devils centre Dainius Zubrus didn’t return after being hit in the leg by a puck in the second period. … Dumont has assists in three straight games. … Three of the last four games between Nashville and New Jersey have gone to shootouts.