MONTREAL - If Pekke Rinne knew just how he and the Nashville Predators keep shutting down the Montreal Canadiens' offence they'd gladly face them more than once a season.
Rinne stopped 30 shots for his second shutout of the season and Marcel Goc scored twice as the Nashville Predators won 3-0 over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday at the Bell Centre.
The Preds goalie has had the Canadiens’number, having shut out Montreal the last time the two teams met on Nov. 14, 2009 in Nashville.
“It’s exciting to come to Montreal and to play one of the top teams in the league," said Rinne. "We played the same way last year and this year we played really well as a team and that's the story behind it, I guess."
“I felt good, right from the start you could tell that it was going to be a low scoring game. It was a game with good defensive hockey.”
The win snapped Montreal’s four game winning streak, and cooled off Canadiens goaltender Carey Price who was coming off two shutouts in four games.
It was Nashville’s second game of a four-game road trip. They lost the first one Tuesday night in Toronto to the Maple Leafs.
“We went back to playing Predators hockey and doing the things that make us successful,”said Nashville’s head coach Barry Trotz.“We were embarrassed after the game on Tuesday night, but I trusted that our players would respond.”
The Predators got the first goal of the game at 1:19 of the second when Francis Bouillon passed to Goc who was in front of the net to put a low backhand past Price’s pad.
The Canadiens had their opportunities in the second but couldn’t capitalize despite getting three consecutive power plays. They failed to score on four man advantages in the game.
Jaroslav Spacek also had a good chance during a 4-on-4 at the mid-point, but was stopped twice by Rinne in close.
Montreal showed flashes of strong play but weren’t able to maintain it for a full 60 minutes.
“At some points we started to have momentum, but it was too little too late,”said Canadiens’captain Brian Gionta.“We could have been a lot better in many different areas tonight.”
Nashville padded its lead at 8:55 in the third as Steve Sullivan sent a cross-ice pass to Cal O’Reilly who tapped it in after getting a free lane to the net.
“We knew there was a lot of hockey left but the second goal was a tough one to take for sure,”said Mike Cammalleri.
Goc got his second at 11:57, cruising over the blue-line untouched and firing a wrist shot that handcuffed Price.
Predators centre David Legwand left at 14:18 of the first after colliding with Habs defenceman Roman Hamrlik behind the Canadiens’net. He didn’t return and has what the team is calling a lower-body injury.
Spacek left the game late in the third period after going into the boards awkwardly. He’ll be re-evaluated on Friday.
It was a homecoming for Bouillon who played with Montreal for parts of eight seasons. He had a pair of assists in the game and was given an ovation when he was named the game’s third star.
“It was moving I have to say, it’s really something for them to cheer you like that. It was special,”said Bouillon.“I was pretty nervous for the first five minutes but then I settled down. Everyone on the team knew it was an important game for me; I’m happy with it.”
Sergei Kostitsyn didn’t get the same response from the Bell Centre fans. He faced his older brother Andrei for the first time in an NHL game.
Sergei Kostitsyn, who fell out of favour in Montreal last season, was jeered every time he touched the puck. He has just three points in 13 games this year, though he’s played with a broken toe for the last month.
“We definitely responded well from that game,”said Trotz.“We were hard on the puck and better on the penalty kill, went back to the basic stuff that will make us successful.”
Notes: Prior to the game Montreal called updefenseman Yannick Weber from the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Weber has an AHL-high eight goals to go along with four assists. ... Matthew Lombardi didn’t play for Nashville due to a concussion suffered on Oct. 13th in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
- with files from The Associated Press.