Pekka Rinne and Cam Ward have worked harder during their NHL careers.
The goalies for the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes, respectively, were good enough on Saturday, though, that they – and their teammates – all had to work a little longer.
With shots – not to mention goals – at a premium for much of the night, Nashville forward Martin Erat eventually ended the Predators’ third road game in five days. The final regulation skater in the shootout converted and lifted the Predators to a 2-1 victory at Carolina.
The Hurricanes elected to go first in the shootout and got an early advantage when their first skater, Jeff Skinner, beat Rinne. Cal O’Reilly immediately matched that and following three saves (two by Rinne) Erat got the decisive conversion.
Between them, the teams managed just eight shots in the first period and 44 through regulation (23 for Nashville, 21 for Carolina).
The Hurricanes added just one more shot in overtime against Rinne, who had faced 30 or more in eight of his first 12 starts this season. Ward faced 49 on Nov. 5 at Florida but since his teammates limited shots at him to an average of just over 20 per outing, which made Nashville’s 27, including four in overtime, a big number.
It was the Predators who produced the most prolific offensive period when they got off a whopping 10 shots in the second. That’s also when they got their only goal on a wrist shot by Jerred Smithson 3:53 after the first intermission.
Smithson’s goal tied it at 1-1 and ultimately forced overtime as neither team scored over the final 36:07. Nashville had two power plays over the final 11 minutes of regulation and three of the final four that were awarded but for the 10th time in 12 games it failed to score a goal with the man-advantage.
It was the first goal of the season for Smithson, who also matched his season-high with three shots. He had just two shots total in the preceding six contests.
David Legwand became the 10th Predators’ player this season to miss a game because of injury. He was hurt early in Thursday’s victory at Montreal and was replaced at Carolina by Nick Spaling.