NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators have scored more than one goal only once in five games.
One was all they needed Saturday night as they beat the New York Islanders 1-0. Pekka Rinne stopped all 23 shots and Vernon Fiddler scored the lone goal for the Predators. The Predators are 2-2-1 in that stretch, despite the lack of offensive. The only game to produce more than one Nashville goal was a 3-0 win over Dallas on Dec. 13.
“I try to focus on my own game,” Rinne said. “Personally, I like holding a lead like that. When you lead after the first period, the other team has to chase you all of the time and play a high-risk game. It is good for us.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz is taking stock of the overall play of his team, not just what they are doing in the offensive zone.
“It was a real solid performance against the Islanders,” Trotz said. “We are not scoring a whole lot right now, but we are winning hockey games. We are going to have to win them close to the vest until some guys get hot.
“A lot of our top guys are seeing a lot of the best defencemen. Some of the other guys have to contribute. We have to make sure we don’t kill ourselves in terms of making poor decisions. If we manage the puck well, play good team defence, and do the right things offensively, the goals will come.”
Rinne earned his third shutout of the month. The Predators have five blankings in 12 games.
“Pekka was really good,” Trotz said. “They didn’t have a lot of point-blankers, but the Islanders had some interesting pucks. There were some pucks bouncing around, and he had to be real sharp on those. I thought he was.”
The Islanders lost their ninth straight game (0-8-1) and dropped both ends of a two-game road trip on consecutive nights, scoring only one goal. New York was beaten 4-1 at Minnesota on Friday, allowing three goals in the third period.
New York’s only point in its skid came in an overtime loss to Washington at home on Tuesday.
“Nobody’s going to get us out of this slump but ourselves,” said Joey MacDonald, who stopped 27 shots. “We know this and the coaches know this. Everybody has to get together and keep working.
“We are short on bodies, but we just have to keep battling and working hard. We’ll get out of it. I thought tonight we made a few good steps.”
It was the second straight game that Fiddler scored the only goal for the Predators. He gave Nashville the lead in the first period on a 2-on-1 break. Martin Erat, skating down the left side, hit Fiddler with a pass as he skated through the inside of the right circle. Fiddler fired a one-timer to beat MacDonald to his glove side.
“Fiddler always works hard,” Trotz said. “He has a pretty good skill level. (Rich) Peverley and Fiddler have been really good lately at giving us some offensive push.”
Erat was dropped from the second line to the checking line with Fiddler and Peverley in an effort to increase his point production. He has only one goal and three assists in 12 games.
“Marty is a skilled guy,” Fiddler said. “If you get him the puck, he will find you. We are using our speed. It is going to take time to adjust to each other.”
The Islanders find themselves continuing to make adjustments due to a rash of injuries.
“It’s not just key players, but a lot of players,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “Usually when you get guys back in your lineup, you say, ‘All right, now we can get ourselves back into order here and get some consistency in our lines.’ But it just doesn’t seem like it is ever going to happen.
“So that’s what we have to deal with, and we can’t take anything away from the effort the guys gave with a depleted lineup.”
Notes: Predators C Jason Arnott became the 232nd NHL player to appear in 1,000 games. … The Islanders haven’t won at Nashville since a 5-2 victory on April 11, 2002. … The Predators are 9-0 when leading after the first period and 13-3-1 when scoring first. … The Islanders are 5-7 in back-to-back games this season.