LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nashville’s Pekka Rinne has been a Vezina Trophy finalist four times, and won the award honoring the league’s best goalie in 2018.
He’s been a vital part of the Predators’ success over the years.
But when it comes to playing the three-year old Vegas Golden Knights, the 36-year-old had made just two starts in six meetings and never beat them.
Until Tuesday night.
Rinne made 33 saves to remain unbeaten as the Predators topped Vegas 5-2.
“I don’t know what’s behind it; (Backup goalie Juuse) Saros has actually played unbelievable against these guys,” said Rinne, who improved to 4-0-0 and is tied with four others for most wins in the league. “That’s something that you want to do. Just the fact, to me, they are one of the top teams in the West. Personally, that obviously gets you going.”
Kyle Turris, Colton Sissons, Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino scored for the Predators, who had nine players get points in the win. Seventeen of Nashville’s 20 skaters to appear in a game have registered a point.
But it was Rinne who was splendid in the net, stifling one of the NHL’s most potent offenses in what Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said might have been his best outing thus far.
The Golden Knights seized momentum in the first period after taking a 2-1 lead, on goals by Mark Stone and Reilly Smith, but Rinne made several scrambles in the crease to keep his team in the game.
“He worked and battled and just stayed with it,” Laviolette said. “He had to keep fighting for things. They fire a lot of pucks at the net and that keeps you needing to be on your toes all the time and he was strong. He gave us a chance, especially early on.
“It maybe could have been 3-1 or 4-1, it may have been hard to climb out of, so the fact we were able to be down just one going into the second period, and we turned things around pretty quick and that was real positive. He was terrific.”
Nashville stole the momentum immediately in the second period, scoring three unanswered goals over the first 6:52.
Sissons followed his own shot and knocking the puck past Fleury just 44 seconds into the second to tie the game, 2-2.
Then it was Viktor Arvidsson with what might have been the prettiest set up of the night, as he maneuvered brilliantly around Vegas defenseman Jon Merrill, skated behind the net and fed Jarnkrok, who tethered the net with a blistering shot past Fleury to put the Predators back in front.
Forsberg extended his point streak to six games with his fifth goal of the season, and 150th of his career, when he intercepted Fleury’s pass behind the net and found the open net to push Nashville’s lead to two goals.
“We know that it’s hard to come in here and take two points against this Vegas team, so I think we did a great job tonight to get the two points,” Jarnkrok said. “The offense has been working. Today we kept it pretty simple and that seemed to work out good for us.”
Bonino gave Nashville a 5-2 lead early in the third, as the Predators made it five straight games with a power-play goal.
“We made three real bad mistakes in the second period,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We give them three goals and that’s what happens. You get behind the eight ball. You’re pressing a little bit. We made some mistakes tonight (that are) uncharacteristic of our hockey team.”
Nashville has scored 28 goals, its most through its first six games of a season in franchise history. The Predators have scored at least four goals in five of their six contests.
Marc-Andre Fleury, whose five goals allowed was a season-high, made 34 saves. He came into the game with a 1.96 goals-against average against the Predators, the second lowest against all opponents, but the 16-year veteran didn’t have an answer for the highest-scoring team in the league.
NOTES: Nashville has now won four of its last five games against Vegas. … Stone, who leads Vegas with 10 points, has three power-play goals already this season. His career high for power play goals is six. … Vegas D Shea Theodore played in his 200th career game. … Golden Knights rookie Cody Glass has a point in five of the first seven games.