BUFFALO, N.Y. – Forget style points, all Jason Arnott cared about was that his Nashville Predators got two points.
Arnott snapped a tie in the third period, Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for his first career shutout and Nashville beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 Monday night.
With both teams looking weary – the Sabres were playing their fourth game in six nights while Nashville played for the third time in four – and play being lethargic at times, especially in the first two periods, Arnott knew an ugly goal could be the difference in a dreary game.
He was right, as his chip-in from the front of the goal wound up going over Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller’s shoulder and into the net eight minutes into a scoreless third.
It was Arnott’s team-leading 13th goal of the season, and prevented the possibility of Nashville being shut out 1-0 for the second time in a week.
“That was one of the goals that was going to do it,” Arnott said. “It just wasn’t happening for both ends. There was a lot of defensive plays.”
And a lot of steady goaltending from the 26-year-old Rinne, who was making just his ninth overall career appearance, but second start in the last three games. Rinne didn’t have to make any spectacular saves, but he made two key stops during the final 1:50 while Miller was pulled for the extra attacker.
“I’ve played in a lot of tight games, so this was pretty normal,” said Rinne, who improved to 4-0 this season and 5-1 in his career. “There wasn’t any extra pressure on me. I just had to do my own job.”
J.P. Dumont also scored and had an assist for the Predators (12-10-2), who won for the third time in five games.
“That’s definitely the type of game we have to play on the road,” Dumont said. “We worked hard for our goals, so it was a big win.”
The Predators were also able to bounce back from a miserable 6-2 home loss to Minnesota on Saturday, a game in which they allowed five power-play goals. On Monday, they were whistled for only two penalties, and were able to easily kill both off.
“We really made (that) an emphasis because we weren’t very disciplined at home and it cost us a hockey game,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I like the way our guys responded. It says a lot about our team.”
Miller made 25 saves for the Sabres (11-10-3), who lost their second straight. Miller also had his personal three-game winning streak stopped.
“There wasn’t much going on in that game,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. “It was a turnover-fest. It was frustrating … really frustrating.”
The Sabres played without captain Craig Rivet, who was scratched just hours before gametime because of an upper body injury. But Buffalo did get forward Ales Kotalik back after he missed seven games because of a hamstring injury.
Rivet was hurt in Buffalo’s loss to Montreal on Saturday, and is day to day.
Dumont upped the advantage to 2-0 with his fifth of the season 2 1/2 minutes after Arnott scored, tapping in the puck while diving to his left after Miller stopped Shea Weber’s initial shot.
“We didn’t generate much offensively,” Buffalo forward Jason Pominville said. “The only time we did was with about five or six minutes left. I don’t think we challenged (Rinne) enough to get a feel for him.”
Notes: The Predators lost to St. Louis in a 1-0 shootout on Nov. 25. … Predators C David Legwand played in his 573th game with the Predators, tying Kimmo Timonen for the most in team history. … The Sabres were 2-3 during a stretch in which they played five of six at home. … Dumont played five seasons for the Sabres, and now has four points in seven games against them.