Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better. Just ask the Nashville Predators.
In the Preds’ 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at Bridgestone Arena, it was their three smallest players that made all the difference.
Viktor Arvidsson, who’s 5-foot-9 and Rocco Grimaldi, who’s 5-foot-6, scored three of the four goals (Arvidsson 2, Grimaldi 1), while Juuse Saros, who’s 5-foot-11, posted a 32-save shutout – the sixth of his career and second this year.
“We talked about not wanting to be a one hit wonder having six in a row and then you win one game and turn everything around, but then you lay an egg,” said Grimaldi, who scored his first goal in Bridgestone Arena as a member of the Predators.
“Saros held us in the game; he stopped two different breakaways throughout the game. He held us in and then our guys got going and putting more pucks to the net. We started shooting to score, instead of just trying to get it to the net and we were rewarded.”
It’s the first time the Preds have consecutive wins since Dec. 11-15 after dropping six straight to close out the month of December. However, the improved team play over the last two games has the Preds thinking this could be just what the team needed to get a hot streak going.
“Of course, we think that, but it doesn’t really matter what you think, it’s what you do,” Grimaldi said. “We got to have a good practice before we go to Detroit. Then we have a long road trip, playing five or six games against some really good hockey teams that are playing good right now. We have to take it one game at a time and keep building off each game.”
Arvidsson and Grimaldi are responsible for five goals and seven points in the Predators’ back-to-back wins, as each tallied a goal and an assist in the Preds’ 6-3 win over Washington on Monday.
“(Arvidsson is) a hustler,” Zac Rinaldo said. “And you have to give him credit when credit is due. He works his tail off every night and he earns every point that he gets.”
“(Grimaldi) works his (butt) off out there and really competes for pucks,” Arvidsson added. “He gets pucks to the net. He can create something out of nothing because he’s so explosive.”
Saros, on the other hand, has allowed one goal or fewer in four of the last five games he’s played (three starts), including Tuesday night’s shutout.
“I felt good,” Saros said. “I’ve been practicing well and saw a lot of pucks today. We played a pretty good defense and that always helps.”
After a rocky November that saw Saros post a 5.58 goals-against average, the 23-year-old net-minder has a .934 save percent and a 1.72 goals-against average since Dec. 6.
“Well tonight, he was terrific, let’s be honest,” Laviolette said. “He made all the ones he was supposed to, and then he made some ‘wow’ saves in there as well where they got behind us.
“Recently, we’ve played a lot of teams really strong off the rush. Washington, Dallas, the Rangers and I think Philadelphia, a couple times here, they’re a rush team. They’re able of attacking, they fly guys capable of getting behind you, and they did. We needed saves there and he made them.”The Predators will have two days off before hitting the road for Detroit on Friday.