It may have been a state of emergency outside due to an ice storm, but inside Bridgestone Arena, the Predators remained on fire. With their 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, Nashville extended their NHL-best win streak to six. The fourth goal of the contest was netted by Paul Gaustad, and it was his first since October 11 against the Dallas Stars.
“It was good,” said Gaustad on how it felt to get the goal. “I try to chip in offensively. The most important thing is getting the two points tonight.”
Recently Gaustad and winger Eric Nystrom were featured in Beneath The Ice, a behind the scenes feature on the team. In it, both joked about how Toronto Maple Leafs forward joked about how they’re difficult to play against because they don’t try to score, when in reality they are. Gaustad doesn’t intend to relay any messages to Kessel on his goal.
“Nothing like that,” said Gaustad with a smile. “Bourque and Nystrom played a great game. We just do our job and then sometimes the puck goes in for you.”
During a second period penalty kill, goaltender Pekka Rinne was stellar in net, as always. When faced with a series of difficult shots, Rinne made four in a row, including one after the whistle blew.
“He made a ton of great saves,” said Gaustad on Rinne. “Again, that’s something he’s been doing on a nightly basis, so he’s been playing great for us.”
It’s not unfamiliar territory for the Predators to give up the first goal. Their ability to bounce back and win those games is even more impressive. Nashville is ranked second in the league in win percentage when allowing the first goal. After Tuesday night’s game, their record is 17-11-2 when allowing the opposition to score first.
“You’re going into a game knowing you have to score to win a game, so if you go down by one, you just stick with the game plan,” said Gaustad. “That’s what we’ve been doing all year.”
The Predators now have a six-point cushion on the rest of the league. The two teams closest to Nashville in points are Montreal and St. Louis, each with 78 points.
Rinne proves he’s the best
During a Mike Fisher penalty in the second period, Pekka Rinne proved why he is an all-world goalie that should be in consideration for not only the Vezina trophy, but also the Hart trophy as the most valuable player. It was a ridiculous series of events and you can hear it in television play by play announcer Pete Weber’s voice.
Captain Shea Weber laughed when asked about Rinne’s saves against the Sharks:
“Yeah, same thing every night. I don’t know why you guys ask about it. He’s spectacular. Obviously he made some huge saves. He pretty much killed that one penalty in the second by himself. We’re fortunate that we have him on our team.”
Craig Smith echoed Weber’s thoughts:
“Pekka has been unreal. He stays with it. I think the whistle blew and he stayed with it even after. That’s nothing new to anyone else here. He’s a competitor and he wants to win on every shot.
Head coach Peter Laviolette knows the gem he has in his goaltender:
“He was great, there were times when he really just stood on his head. There was a flurry on the powerplay there for San Jose where he made four unbelievable stops in a row and then even one after the whistle for good measure, but he was great. He got a couple standing ovations from our crowd which was just tremendous the amount of people who showed up here in this weather and deservedly so, he really played great, he made some great saves.”