December 17, 2017 / 6:23 AM / 5 months ago

Rinne, Predators shut out Flames 2-0

Rinne, Predators shut out Flames 2-0

CALGARY, Alberta — Pekka Rinne was left to marvel at what he and his Nashville Predators teammates accomplished over the past three games.

The Finnish goalie stopped 32 shots for his third shutout of the season as the Predators blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Saturday. It finished off a dominating three-game road sweep of Western Canada, where Nashville allowed just one goal.

“To be honest with you. these last few games, it’s been unbelievable,” he said. “To only give up one goal — the one in Vancouver and none tonight — I got a lot of help. It wasn’t the busiest of nights. And the (Edmonton) game, Juuse (Saros) stole that for us.”

Saros, Rinne’s backup, beat the Oilers 4-0 Thursday, setting a record for saves in a shutout with 46. Rinne watched delightfully from the bench as he rested up for Calgary.

Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala scored for Nashville (21-7-4), which has won six of its past seven games overall (6-0-1).

The Flames (16-14-3) went 0-for-5 on the power play to lose for the sixth time in their past eight (2-4-2). They fell to 8-10-0 at home.

Rinne’s 46 career shutouts are the most by a Finnish-born goaltender, three better than retired Flames great Miikka Kiprusoff, who is in second spot.

Mike Smith made 26 saves for Calgary.

Rinne was especially stellar in the first period when Calgary began with its only offensive threat. He stopped Sean Monahan from the edge of the crease and made a slick pad save on a tip-in attempt by Micheal Ferland among his 12 stops in the period.

Calgary’s Mark Giordano hit the crossbar on a three-on-one and TJ Brodie did the same in the final few seconds. The Flames hit iron four times in the game.

“A lot of sacrifice and desperate plays and good sticks and blocked shots,” Rinne said. “It’s such a big part of the game these days.

“(The Flames) have a lot of skill up front, and they were able to get a couple of good looks. But I got a lot of help. Tonight I got some help from the crossbar, too, something like four times.”

The Predators were stuck on one shot on goal through the first 10 minutes and didn’t get their second until a power play that came when Calgary’s Sam Bennett took a slashing minor 9:05 into the period.

They awoke, as they often do, in the second period. Johansen opened the scoring when he knocked his own rebound in out of the air at 11:17. Fiala redirected Kyle Turris’ pass past Smith with 37.5 seconds left in the period.

Fiala and Turris now have seven-game point streaks and Fiala has six of his season total of eight during the middle period.

Nashville has won 13 of 15 games since Turris was acquired in a trade from Ottawa. He is inspired playing with his new squad.

“They’re a young group with lots of energy, and it makes it a ton of fun, but at the same time, I was real surprised at how mature everybody is,” the 28-year-old said.

The Flames continue to scratch their heads over their lack of finish on the power play. On Saturday, they had a two-man advantage for two minutes and mustered one shot.

“We had a lot of looks tonight,” Giordano said. “They’re a good team. Obviously they are one of the best in the league coming in, but I thought we played well. For whatever reason, the puck didn’t go in tonight.

“I thought our power play was better in terms of generating chances, but the bottom line is we’ve got to find a way to get one.”

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan continues to be frustrated by the team’s lack of scoring punch.

“We out-chanced them tonight,” he said. “We’ve out-chanced most of our opponents through the last seven games, eight games, so there’s not a lack of chances. It’s a lack of it going in, so maybe there is a little bit of a squeeze.”

NOTES: Calgary RW Garnet Hathaway was blindsided by an open-ice hit from Nashville D Austin Watson in the second period but returned after going off for concussion protocol. Watson received a game misconduct and had to fight RW Troy Brouwer as on-ice retribution. ... Flames D Travis Hamonic has unveiled a program in which he flies families in from Canada’s far north — the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon — to see games in Calgary. The first of three families were spectators Saturday. Hamonic is from Manitoba and is of Metis ancestry. ... Healthy scratches for Nashville were RW Miikka Salomaki, LW Cody McLeod and D Matt Irwin. Healthy spectators for Calgary were C Curtis Lazar, C Freddie Hamilton and D Matt Bartkowski. ... Flames LW Jaromir Jagr returned to the lineup after missing five games with a lower-body injury. He is 39 games away from becoming the NHL’s all-time leader in games played.

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