Neal, Rinne help Predators beat Ducks 3-2
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Quality goaltending and a little luck were just what the Nashville Predators needed.
James Neal and Miikka Salomaki gave Nashville the lead, and Pekka Rinne stopped 38 shots to lead the Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.
''(Rinne) gave us an opportunity to win the game,'' Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. ''He was sharp, he saw a lot of pucks, and he got down in the crease tied up a lot of rebounds. He was really good.''
Shea Weber also scored as Nashville won for the third time in four games.
Rickard Rakell and Mike Santorelli had the goals for the Ducks, who have lost four of their last five. Frederik Andersen gave up three goals on 10 shots and was replaced in the second period by Anton Khudobin, who stopped all 11 shots he faced.
Weber scored the game's first goal at 9:33 of the opening period.
With the Predators on a power play, Roman Josi sent a pass from the right point to Weber, who was standing above the left circle. Weber beat Andersen with a one-timer. It was the Nashville captain's sixth goal of the season and fifth on the power play.
Rakell evened the game 1:14 later as he beat Rinne with a wraparound.
Nashville regained the lead for good with 6:47 left in the first when Neal carried the puck from inside the Nashville zone and sent a soft wrist shot on net from outside the blue line that knuckled and squeezed between Andersen's pads.
''Anything can happen when you put it on the net obviously, but that was just a lucky one,'' Neal said. ''I don't know if it landed weird or what happened. I didn't really get a chance to look at it. I was surprised that it went in.''
The goal was Neal's team-leading ninth of the season. He has at least one point in four consecutive games.
Salomaki scored his first of the season at 6:13 of the second as he redirected Mattias Ekholm's shot from the left point to make it 3-1.
That goal was the end of Andersen's night, marking the second consecutive game that Nashville chased their opponent's starting goaltender after doing so Saturday against Winnipeg.
''I didn't think he was very sharp, it's as simple as that,'' Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. ''The body language on his third goal wasn't very good at all. We were still in the position I thought to win the game. We were playing like we could win the game.''
Rinne faced his toughest test in the second, stopping all 19 shots he faced in the period. Three of the saves came in a span of 1:10 midway through the frame.
Carl Hagelin had a partial breakaway and pulled up for a slap shot from the low slot that Rinne denied at 9:07. The three-time Vezina Trophy finalist denied Hagelin 3 seconds later with a diving stop on the rebound attempt.
''Key moment of the game for sure,'' Rinne said. ''They had a couple of breakaways in the second period and we were able to keep them out. That was a big sequence.''
At 10:17, Rinne stopped Andrew Cogliano's wrist shot on a short-handed attempt.
''At the end of the day, we have to get pucks in,'' Cogliano said. ''Rinne played good, we give him that, but we lost the game, so it doesn't really matter.''
Santorelli made it 3-2 at 5:33 of the third, when the former Predator put home the rebound of a shot by Kevin Bieksa.
Notes: Nashville is 10-1-1 when scoring first this season. ... Josi's assist was the 100th of his NHL career. ... Anaheim RW Jakob Silfverberg played in his 200th career game.