NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators made it look easy against the Minnesota Wild.
Rinne made 17 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and Colin Wilson, Jason Arnott, and Patric Hornqvist each had a goal and an assist in the Predators' 5-0 victory over the Wild on Thursday night.
Nashville won its fourth straight, ending Minnesota's winning streak at three.
J.P. Dumont and Marcel Goc also scored for Nashville.
Entering Thursday, Minnesota was 10th in the Western Conference standings, six points behind eighth-place Detroit, but any hopes of gaining ground on the Red Wings were dashed early as the Predators struck for three goals in the opening period.
Wilson opened the scoring at 7:07. Inside the Nashville blue line, Wilson blocked a shot by Minnesota defenseman Nick Schultz. Wilson then carried the puck into the Wild zone along the right side before cutting to the middle and slipping a wrist shot by goalie Josh Harding on the far side.
"We got a couple of key goals early to get us going on the right track," Wilson said.
Just under 2 minutes later, Dumont beat Harding with a shot from the high slot.
With 39 seconds remaining in the first, Arnott's shot from the right boards beat an out of position Harding.
"We played well with the lead, and we played with confidence at the end of the game," Arnott said. "Everybody contributed tonight and we came out with a big two points."
Goc scored at 2:19 of the second, and Hornqvist connected on a power play at 7:35 of the third.
"We stayed really disciplined in a lot of areas," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought we were really good in the faceoff circle tonight. They are a team that can really create off of the draws."
Nashville won 42 of the 67 faceoffs.
"I thought it was the start that we wanted; we generated a couple of good opportunities, but we weren't able to score," Minnesota coach Todd Richards said. "We lost a lot of battles and spent a lot of time in our own zone."
Rinne was tested early, seeing nine Minnesota shots in the first period, but saw just four in the second and four in the third to record his 12th career shutout.
"In the first period both teams had chances, but we got those goals, and I think it kind of took the wind out of them," Rinne said. "We didn't let up after that and kept pushing the game."
Wade Dubielewicz replaced Harding in the Minnesota goal to start the third period.
"We weren't that good today," Harding said. "The great thing about hockey is that we can forget about this one and get ready for tomorrow. I think we all know we need to be better."
NOTES: Nashville improved its record against Northwest Division opponents to 12-7-1 ... Wild D Greg Zanon played in his 300th career NHL game. Zanon's first 230 games were played with Nashville. ... Nashville C Dustin Boyd had an assist for his first point as with Nashville. ... Predators RW Martin Erat had two assists to extend his points streak to three games.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
I thought we stayed really disciplined in a lot of areas. The first two shifts were a little slow and sluggish and Pekka had to make some good saves. He had to get over and seal the post. We were a little bit sluggish but from there we got on the forecheck a little bit. Wilson had a great blocked shot and stayed on it.
On the third goal...
The third goal was huge. If you look at it, we shot the puck, Harding looked down, pushed it out of the way, and he got caught off guard. It was right at the end of the period and it gives you some breathing room. We were given the opportunity to stay on a team and we had some good chances and managed the puck better in the second period. We were really good in the faceoff circle tonight. They can create a lot off the draw and we really limited their chances. We got a power play goal and we just stayed disciplined. We made a few mistakes but on the whole, we did well.
On Colin Wilson...
Not only is he a big body, but he’s good on the walls and he protects pucks. That first goal, he protected the puck. The defenseman was on his back and the goalie was trying to pokecheck. He has good awareness and made good plays. He’s hard to contain. One time in the second period, he spun off and drove the net and gave Frankie (Francis Bouillon) the puck. He’s been doing really well.
On Pekka Rinne...
He’s been really good. Tonight, he made some early saves and the whole complexion of the game could have changed. He’s really solid and when you’re getting goaltending like Pekka can give you, you’re in a good place.
On Saturday’s game against Columbus Blue Jackets...
We’re trying to look forward and trying to see what will happen at the end of the game. We’re trying to worry about one game at a time. We’re focusing on Saturday, because that’s the biggest game of the year. They’re a good team and they’re well-coached. It will be a good test for us.
On Patric Hornqvist...
We had no idea he was going to be this big offensively. You always hope a player can take his game to the next level and obviously his stats are showing that.
Captain Jason Arnott
On the goal he scored tonight…
Well, I don’t know what Harding was doing. I just looked up for a second and I really don’t know what he was doing and I saw that he wasn’t in the net so I just fired it on the net and it went in. When I came to the bench, I saw on the replay that he was trying to get something off the ice. Good for us; bad for them.
On the last ten minutes of this game being different than the last few games…
It was good. We didn’t give much up, so it was a lot better during the third when we had the lead, compared to the last few games that we’ve played. We played with the lead and we played with confidence and that’s a good plus for us.
On expecting more desperation out of Minnesota closer to the playoffs…
Yeah, we did a little bit. Not to take anything away from us, but I think the guys in here played a solid game and we didn’t give them much. You’ve got to hand it to everybody; everybody contributed tonight.
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
On having a bigger cushion in tonight’s game…
It was nice. That was probably one of the better games that we’ve played. Obviously after that first period they lost their wind and it was a pretty tight first period but we got the goals and that changed the game.
On the defense playing well in front of him tonight…
There were some scoring chances but not many shots and obviously I could see the puck and the guys made it really easy on me.
On playing one of their better games in awhile…
Absolutely. I think over the full sixty minutes it was just a solid game and even though we were leading 4-0, sometimes it can be mentally hard to play a game like that and our guys kept pushing and pushing.
Forward Patric Hornqvist
On having a tough stretch to finish out the season…
We just have to take it one game at a time and it is going to be so tough so we can’t slip up for any games.
On having an easier third period of play…
Everybody feels confident and we made some plays and it was just fun to play out there in the third and it was enjoyable. Pekka really stepped up and made some good saves when we lagged a little too much. Everybody has confidence and all the lines are scoring.