Pekka Rinne stopped 23 shots and Vern Fiddler added his fifth goal of the season as the Predators recognized Jason Arnott’s 1000th NHL game with a 1-0 shutout win over the NY Islanders on Saturday night at Sommet Center.
Rinne picked up his third shutout in his last five starts to improve his record to 7-1-0 on the season. Both Rinne and fellow netminder Dan Ellis are playing well as the Predators defense has limited opponents to just 15 goals in nine games during the month of December.
Arnott celebrated his 1000th game with a dominant performance. Nearly every time Arnott, J.P. Dumont, and Joel Ward took a shift the line created dangerous scoring chances. They opened the game with three quality chances and followed the momentum throughout the contest. Despite being held off the score sheet, they combined for nine shots on goal and an additional 10 attempted shots.
At the first TV timeout of the opening period, Arnott was recognized in-arena for his 1000th game. Coming out of the timeout, Vern Fiddler gave the Preds the early 1-0 lead. Fiddler won a defensive zone faceoff and Rich Peverley helped spring Fiddler and Martin Erat on a two-on-one break. Erat carried the play down the left wing, drawing the defenseman before sliding a pass to Fiddler on the right wing. Fiddler snapped the shot home at the 6:48 mark for his fifth goal of the season.
After grabbing the lead, the Preds clamped down on defense limiting the Islanders to very few scoring chances. Still, when tested, Rinne responded, including denying Mike Comrie and Jon Sim from in close early in the second period. With 6:06 left in the third period, Rinne made a big save on Thomas Pock cutting down the slot and then covered the rebound with heavy traffic in the goal crease.
Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald was sharp as well, finishing with 27 saves on the night.
Post-Game Quotes: Head Coach Barry Trotz On another solid performance tonight…
"Yes, that was a really solid performance and I thought Pekka Rinne was really good. They didn’t have a lot of point-blankers, but there were some interesting pucks that were bouncing around that he had to be really sharp around and I thought he was. Overall, there was good effort by everyone and when you play teams from another conference, you don’t know much about the teams coming in. They are playing with a lot of desperation but they got really active deep and it makes you really be on your toes a lot. It was an interesting game."
On scoring just one goal…
"We’ve been playing really close to the vest until some of our guys get hot here. "
On any frustrations…
"As long as we’re winning there is less frustration, but we look for it to give us a little breathing room sometime, and get the second goal. We had lots of chances – in the second period I thought Arnott had a lot of chances and with Martin Erat, we had a lot of chances. In the third period, they really only had one chance to score and we had about 10."
On Martin Erat playing with new linemates…
"He was really good, he was skating and he looked like he had jump and I was betting he was going to score tonight but he did set up Fiddler for the winner so, I was hoping maybe he’d shoot that puck so I would be right, but he made a great play to Fiddler."
On changing their play when leading after one period…
"No, you don’t really play different because the league doesn’t allow you to play a whole lot different. Right now, with the old rules, you can interfere a lot, and it was really hard to get a forecheck, and any turnovers, but now, you just have to play hard right to the end. I thought we did that tonight and everybody contributed."
Forward Jason Arnott On team playing for him tonight…
“It was huge. You could tell all the guys were trying extra extra hard out there to get the win. Everyone played extremely well. Pekka played unbelievable. We will take the win. This is one I will never forget.”
On another shutout by Pekka Rinne…
“He played solid for us. So has Ellie. Both goalies have played really well for us this year. That is what we need. We are struggling a little bit and they are keeping the puck out for us. We are finding ways to win and that is what we need to do.”
On almost getting a goal on the power-play but surviving a win 1-0…
“Sometimes that is the way games go. They keep hanging around and hanging around and they get a goal late in the third. We really did not want that. So we kept pressing and pressing which got us two points for us.”
Forward Vern Fiddler On only scoring one goal in a few games but getting wins…
“If you can keep them out of your net, it is a positive. I think we are generating a lot of offense but we are just not finding the back of the net. It takes time. Hopefully we will continue to get the chances.”
On their goalie being sharp…
“He was great. He made some really big saves and kept them in the game. He has been a good goalie for them for awhile now.”
Goaltender Pekka Rinne On his thoughts of the game…
“Both teams were defending very well. We knew it was going to be a low-scoring game. It was an emotional game. Beforehand, we were celebrating Arnotts’ 1000th game. So it was a big game for all of us and get two points.”
On his third shutout on past five games…
“It is not just me. You are always going to lose as a team and win as a team. They did a great job in front of me. Lately, it has been going well for myself. It is a good combination and working so far.”
On feeling pressure when team is not scoring many goals…
“Not really. I try to focus on my own game. Obviously, you think about it a little bit when you have a lot of power plays. It might get frustrating. We were leading since the first period so it was a nice game to play.”
1 - 0 NSH
Interference - Goalkeeper