NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Nashville Predators showed little southern hospitality to their former neighbours from Atlanta.
Pekka Rinne made 24 saves to lead the Predators to a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque and Shea Weber scored for Nashville, which snapped a two-game losing streak by beating the Jets.
Tim Stapleton had the lone goal for the Jets, who have lost three of four. One night after rallying from a three goal-deficit and winning in overtime at Washington, the Jets lost their 21st road game of the season.
“You look at the game, we got shots, but very few quality shots, very few scoring chances,” Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. “It was very little penetration inside the dots. Very few second and third opportunities, and I thought they did a good job of keeping us to the outside. It was a tough night to get on the inside of anything.”
Before moving to Winnipeg and changing their nickname, the Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers, and were located just over 200 miles from Music City.
Halischuk scored the first goal at 2:56 of the second period. After a faceoff deep in the Nashville zone, Alexander Radulov carried the puck into the neutral zone. At the centre-ice dot, he found Halischuk on his right. Without breaking stride, Halischuk entered Winnipeg’s zone and pulled up at the top of the right faceoff dot. From there, he fired a slap shot over the glove of Ondrej Pavelec for his 13th goal.
“I saw a little bit of net on the right side there,” Halischuk said. “I was just trying to get a quick, hard shot.”
Radulov has a goal and an assist in two games since returning to the NHL after spending the last four seasons in Russia’s KHL.
“They have big guys in the lineup, especially with Radulov right now,” Pavelec said. “I think he played really well. The team is better with him.”
Midway through the second, Bourque doubled Nashville’s lead. Nick Spaling’s shot from the high slot hit the stick of Winnipeg defenceman Randy Jones in front, and Bourque quickly tapped it past Pavelec low to the glove side.
Spaling’s assist ended a 12-game drought without a point.
Stapleton drew the Jets to within one at 12:53 of the third. From behind the Nashville net, Spencer Machacek spotted Stapleton skating through the low slot. Stapleton split two Nashville players and had an easy tap-in for his 11th goal.
“Obviously, when it was 2-1 it got a little tight,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We were losing some faceoffs, and when we did, we didn’t execute getting them out.”
Weber finished the scoring with an empty-net, power-play goal from near centre ice with 10.1 seconds remaining in the third.
The first period remained scoreless in large part because of a blocked shot by Nashville defenceman Kevin Klein. Rinne was out of his crease after making a stop on Andrew Ladd, but the puck came right back to the Jets captain in the slot. Klein filled the vacated crease well and deflected Ladd’s wrist shot to the right corner.
“It was one of those things. It was just reactionary,” Klein said. “Peks, he bails me out enough, so it is nice to chip in.”
NOTES: Nashville killed Winnipeg’s only power play of the game. The Predators have been short-handed just once in each of their last four games. . Nashville RW Jordin Tootoo was a healthy scratch. Before Saturday, his only two missed games this season were because of an NHL suspension resulting from his hit on Buffalo G Ryan Miller on Dec. 3. . The Jets are 1-23-3 when trailing after two periods. . Winnipeg RW Chris Thorburn missed his sixth consecutive game because of an undisclosed lower body injury.