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Pekka Rinne too tough for Hurricanes as Predators win, 3-0

Tribune News Service logo Tribune News Service 11/30/2019 By Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
Rod Brind'Amour wearing a suit and tie: In a March 2018 file image, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind' Amour, left, argues a ruling in action against the Arizona Coyotes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. The Canes were blanked, 3-0, by the Nashville Predators on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. © Chris Seward/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS In a March 2018 file image, Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind' Amour, left, argues a ruling in action against the Arizona Coyotes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C. The Canes were blanked, 3-0, by the Nashville Predators on Friday, Nov. 29, 2019.

RALEIGH, N.C. — In his past four games, the Nashville Predators’ Pekka Rinne had looked like a goalie getting old, perhaps showing his age.

Against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, he looked like the Rinne of old.

The Canes had a sellout crowd at PNC Arena but the home fans had little to cheer as the Predators won, 3-0, and Rinne earned his 350th career victory and 58th career shutout.

Rocco Grimaldi and Calle Jarnkrok gave the Predators a 2-0 lead in the first period, and Austin Watson scored in the second. That was all Rinne needed as the Finnish goalie, sharp from the outset, in full control of the crease, stymied the Canes with 31 saves in his third shutout of the season.

The goaltending numbers appeared to favor the Canes. Goalie Petr Mrazek was 8-0-0 in his career against Nashville. He was 8-2-0 at PNC Arena this season and 28-7-1 the past two years, including playoff games.

Rinne, on the other hand, had allowed 5, 4, 4 and 5 goals in his last four starts, all losses, and had been pulled in three of the games. Long one of the league’s elite goalies, he turned 37 this month.

But this was Rinne’s night. In the opening minutes, he stopped shots by Teuvo Teravainen and Andrei Svechnikov, then a couple by Jordan Staal.

While the Canes (15-10-1) piled up some early shots, the Preds (12-9-4) scored on their fourth. After a Jake Gardiner turnover by the Canes, Nick Bonino floated the puck out of the Carolina zone toward Grimaldi, who first beat Teravainen down the ice on a partial breakaway, then stuffed the puck through Mrazek.

But this would be a game about moments, mostly bad ones for the Canes:

On one play, Canes defenseman Haydn Fleury broke his stick and couldn’t get one from a Canes forward. The Preds promptly scored as Jarnkrok ripped a shot past Mrazek off a Filip Forsberg pass for a 2-0 first-period lead.

In the second period, the Canes caught the Preds’ Watson without a stick on a Carolina power play. But Svechnikov passed directly to a Preds penalty killer with a stick for an easy clear.

Watson gave the Preds a 3-0 lead by going to the front of the net and tipping a Mattias Ekholm shot past Mrazek. Moments later, Svechnikov had a nearly identical tip in front but Rinne made the stop.

It was that kind of night and game — for the Canes and Preds.

While Svechnikov had a number of good offensive chances, the forward’s 10-game point streak ended.

On a first-period power play, Canes forward Ryan Dzingel gathered in a rebound in the low shot for an open shot. He powered the puck — directly into Rinne’s glove.

The Preds were coming off a gut-wrenching overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights, allowing the tying goal in the final second of regulation. But they responded with a solid road game, taking advantage of the Canes mistakes, making things tough for Carolina in the neutral zone and burying key shots.

Carolina had won the past six games against Nashville and was 10-2-1 in the past 13. That meant little this night as the Western Conference team controlled the flow of the game.

The Canes, who lost a road game Wednesday against the New York Rangers, will be at Tampa Bay on Saturday and then face the Boston Bruins in Boston.

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©2019 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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