VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Blake Geoffrion scored the go-ahead goal 1:59 into the third period, Pekka Rinne stopped 29 shots and the Nashville Predators beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Thursday night.
Patric Hornqvist added an insurance goal with 2:21 left and David Legwand completed the scoring into an empty net as the Predators won for just the second time in seven games (2-4-1) to move back into a playoff position at the bottom of the tight Western Conference.
Roberto Luongo made 26 saves for the Canucks, who have alternated between a win and a loss for 12th straight games, but remain atop the overall NHL standings.
It's been a big week for Geoffrion, who scored his first NHL goal in his third career game Tuesday in Edmonton after becoming the first Tennessee native and the first fourth-generation player to make the NHL. His dad, Danny, played 111 NHL games, and both his grandfather, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, and great grandfather, Howie Morenz, are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He scored the decisive goal Thursday by parking atop the crease unchecked and quickly snapping Jordin Tootoo's pass from the corner behind the net in before Luongo could get across his crease.
Justifying the Confidence
|When the Preds held firm at Monday’s Trade Deadline, both GM David Poile and Head Coach Barry Trotz stated their faith in the young players in the organization – and the belief that those players could still raise their game to another level – as a key reason why they didn't feel the need to overpay in trades for veteran depth.
The confidence was on full display tonight as 23-year old Blake Geoffrion, playing in just his fourth career NHL game, scored the game-winning goal – his second goal in as many games – and 24-year old Patric Hornqvist netted the team's second score with a highlight-reel poke-check and steal leading to a breakaway goal in Nashville’s 3-0 win.
On Sunday, 22-year old defenseman Jonathon Blum – playing in just his fourth career NHL game at the time – gave the Preds their first lead with his first career goal in Nashville’s 3-2 win.
Half of Nashville’s dress list for tonight's game consisted of players 25-years old or younger – six of the 12 forwards, three of the six defensemen, and one of the two goaltenders. As a result the Preds active roster has an average age of just 26.4 years old, the fifth youngest in the NHL. Only Colorado (25.7 years old), NY Islanders (25.4), St. Louis (26.1), and Toronto (26.2) have younger rosters.
But this week's youthful production has been nothing new for the Preds. The Preds top two goal scorers and four of its top five points scorers this season are 25-years old or younger; 52.8% of Nashville’s goals this season have come from players currently 25-or-younger.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
Hornqvist stole the puck from defenseman Dan Hamhuis breaking out of his own end, walked in alone and deked out Luongo for his team-leading 18th goal.
Rinne, starting for the 19th time in the past 20 games, won a battle between two of the NHL's top statistical stoppers by posting his fifth shutout of the season, though both goalies went through prolonged stretches of inactivity in a tight-checking game.
Rinne made a desperation save to take an empty net away from Daniel Sedin 11 minutes in, rolling over on his back after being faked to the ice and throwing out his glove arm. Luongo answered with a trio of saves, including two with the glove, during a rare flurry in front of his net 4 minutes later.
After the teams combined for just 10 shots in the first 15 minutes of the second period, Luongo denied Legwand from point-blank range before both teams took turns hitting the post.
First it was Mason Raymond ringing a backhand off the post past Rinne's glove with 4:09 left, then Tootoo struck iron over Luongo's glove on a 2-on-1 break exactly a minute later.
Rinne got another break 2 minutes after Geoffrion scored, as Henrik Sedin put a power-play rebound over his sprawled arm, through the crease and off the far post.
Notes: There was only one referee for the second half of the game after Justin St. Pierre sprained his ankle the second period. ... Canucks RW Daniel Sedin was held without a point for a third straight game for the first time this season, but he still leads the NHL with 79 points, one more than Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos. ... Geoffrion's dad, Danny, scored his last NHL goal in Vancouver almost 30 years ago, on April 1, 1981. Nashville continues its four-game road trip with stops in Calgary and San Jose.