NASHVILLE – Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators put it all together – at the Chicago Blackhawks’ expense.
“Guys went to the net hard and battled,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “The power play came through. The penalty kill was good. We got good goaltending.” Rinne made 22 saves for his first shutout of the season and fifth overall, and Joel Ward scored on a second-period power play in Nashville’s 2-0 victory Thursday night.
Jerred Smithson added a short-handed empty-net goal with four seconds left to help the Predators beat the Blackhawks for the first time in three games this season.
“You knew they were going to be hungry and desperate because the first two outcomes weren’t in their favour,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “The difference was we didn’t cash in on our opportunities.”
Ward scored with 5:07 left in the second period. Francis Bouillon sent the puck in front of the net from the lower edge of the left faceoff circle, and Ward, stationed in front of the crease, redirected it past goalie Cristobal Huet.
“Every coach says that he wants his team to go hard to the net,” Ward said. “It is important for us because of our lack of goals. We’re missing Jason Arnott and Martin Erat in the lineup. We’ve just got to keep it simple and make things happen.”
Nashville has won two straight and three of their last four games.
“We’re getting lots of traffic and lot of pucks loose in the crease on the power play,” Trotz said. “Our power play has come through the last couple of games.
“We’re just pounding pucks, making good solid decisions and going to the hard areas. That’s how you have to do it on the power play.”
Pekka was coming off a 4-3 victory Wednesday night at Minnesota.
“It helps any team to get a goaltender on a roll,” Trotz said. “Both Pekka and Dan Ellis have been fine.”
NOTES: Chicago’s Brent Seabrook was back in the lineup following what was believed to be concussion-related symptoms. … Erat was scratched because of a lower-body injury. … The Predators have scored a power-play goal in each of their last two games.