NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Pekka Rinne made it clear again that he's the Nashville Predators' top goalie.
Rinne made 28 saves, and Ryan Jones, Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and Vernon Fiddler scored in the Predators' 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
"I haven't really changed anything," Rinne said. "The more games you play, the more you get used to the speed of the NHL and the shooters."
The Predators have won three in a row and four of their last five.
Dan Ellis, the starter entering the season after carrying the Predators into the playoffs, will be in goal Friday night in Minnesota, giving Rinne a break after five straight starts.
"Obviously, you want to play as much as possible," Rinne said. "I know we are going to rotate a little bit. But you have to play well. And if you don't the other guy is going to play."
Corey Perry scored twice for Anaheim.
Jones Settling In
Preds forward Ryan Jones has started to settle in to the pace and style of the NHL. Since being recalled after the NHL All-Star Break for his fourth stint with the big club, Jones has posted points in three of his five games with the Preds, inclduing the game's opening goal tonight vs. Anaheim. Over the past five game he has one goals and two assists to go along with 16 shots on goal.
Jones opened the scoring at 11:19 of the first period, beating Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a slap shot to the glove side.
Perry tied it with 1:44 left in the period, skating across the goalmouth and putting a backhander by Rinne's stick.
"The first goal bounces in off of our defenseman," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "It hits two or three people and then hits our defenseman in the foot and we're down 1-0. But we came back with a big goal. We played with everything we had. You have to like the effort of our hockey club."
Arnott answered off a rebound 1:08 into the second period, and the Predators made it 3-1 when Erat beat Giguere with a wrist shot at 11:22 of the second.
Perry scored again for Anaheim with 1:06 to go in the second, skating in low from the left side and beating Rinne with a low snap shot.
Fiddler added an empty-net goal with 1:11 left in the third.
The Predators won many battles to control the puck.
"That's how you score now is in the hard areas," coach Barry Trotz said. "Those hard areas are right in front of the goaltender, in the crease and from the back door. The blue paint out there is where we want to be.
"Our top guys have responded by saying they are going to get it done. They are doing it collectively. The guys we expect to put up numbers like Arnott, Erat and J.P. Dumont are doing that."
Giguere played his first full game since Jan. 14. He had played only 15 minutes since then - in a Jan. 21 game against the New York Islanders.
"It's nice to go one full game and have some positives to build on," said Giguere, who stopped 30 shots. "I felt my energy was good. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a better second half."
Notes: The Predators scored more than two goals in a game for only the second time in their last 10 games. ... Perry has nine points (eight goals, one assist) in his last nine games. ... Anaheim failed to score a power-play goal for the second straight game after scoring at least one in nine consecutive games.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On building confidence…
It’s only a few games but I think the mindset is much better than it was before the break, that’s for sure. We are just trying to build from game to game. I thought in the first period we were trying to feel it out and I thought the second and third period were really good. Early in the second, maybe not so good in the latter part (of the second) but I thought in the third period we were pretty good—had a good forecheck, a little energy, we were doing the right things in terms of our responsibilities. We got the fourth goal by Fiddler, which sealed the deal, so it was a solid effort.
On Ryan Jones’ play…
We try to make sure we remind him everyday what makes a good pro is doing the right things everyday and playing the right way and not having any games where you are non existent. He’s doing a really good job. Again, our big names stepped up. We got really good shifts throughout with Bonk’s line and Fiddler's line; I thought we had really good balance tonight.
On playing with the lead…
I think we have been pretty good at it this year. When you are going through 82 games there are definitely going to be some you don’t play as well but I think as the season goes on, every team solidifies in some areas. And that’s one area—I don’t think we are terrible at it—but I think we are a little more solidified at it.
On playing in the “hard areas” in front of the net…
A good example of that is we got three goals tonight; Jones’ goal in front, Arnott’s goal in front, Erat’s goal—they were all in front. That’s how you score now is in the hard areas. And those hard areas are right in front of the goaltender, in the crease, from the back door. As they say, the blue paint that you see out there is where you want to be.
On Klein’s fight…
I’ve seen Klein fight a couple of times and he’s done pretty well. I haven’t seen him not do pretty well. He’s strong as a horse and he has a little bit of a long fuse. I knew something like that was going to happen. It’s sort of the M.O. of the Ducks, when they go down two, the next shift they are in your face and want to get something going to see if they can get the momentum going.
On the top guys producing points…
There has been a lot of pressure on top guys before the break and they have responded by saying they were going to get it done and they’ve done it collectively. They’ve stepped up. Erat has stepped up, J.P. (Dumont) has stepped up, Sully is finding his game. The guys that we expect to put up some numbers are putting up some numbers and when they do that and the other guys chip in every once in a while we are a pretty solid team that way.
Forward Ryan Jones
On the winning streak…
Losing is contagious, but so is winning. You win a couple of games and all of a sudden everything changes. You can really tell that the guys are starting to believe in each other. It’s a tough turn that we had before the All-Star break, but it’s a whole different atmosphere in here right now, and you can tell.
On February’s home games…
You have to make home ice a hard place to play. The goal with most NHL teams is to go .500 on the road and then take care of business at home, and that will put you in a great position to make the playoffs. Since the All-Star break we won a couple of road games and we have ten home games this month so we have to take care of business. If we do that we’re going to put ourselves in a great position come the end of the regular season.
On being called up…
When I got sent down I realized there were some things I had to work on. Last time they called me up here I told myself I was going to do anything and everything to make them keep me here, and if that’s fighting the big guy, I’ll do that. I’m not good at it, but I’ll do that to stay here because I want it that bad.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
On defending against Anaheim…
They don’t really have one of those original power plays. They have to move around, they just pass the puck and shoot. I don’t know if I did anything different than normal. Maybe a couple of times I challenged the shooters a little bit more, but that’s about it.
On playing with a lead…
It’s great. We know how it feels being behind, and you have to take risks and it changes your game, so it’s great to be the leading team.
Obviously you want to play as much as possible. Right now I feel good. I haven’t really thought about it too much. I know we’re going to rotate a little bit, but you have to play well and if you don’t, the other guy is going to play. But right now I feel good and we are on a little bit of a roll and hopefully we can keep it going.
I haven’t really changed anything. I feel more comfortable. The more games you play, the more you get used to the speed of the NHL and the shooters. Obviously it helps to talk to Ellie about different teams that I haven’t faced yet, and that makes my job easier.
On the winning streak…
It’s unbelievable. You can see the faces in the locker room. Everybody is happy. It changes a lot.