The Nashville Predators didn’t have too much time to dwell on their ugly loss in San Jose a night earlier when they took on the Anaheim Ducks Saturday. And that apparently turned out to be a good thing.
Since the Preds had only won four times in Anaheim since 1998, that wasn’t something they needed to think about. Nor was the fact that the Ducks had put at least 30 shots on net in each of their last six contests. Or that Nashville had dropped to a virtually tie for the eighth and last spot in the playoff chase.
But at the Honda Center this time, Shea Weber’s first period power play goal erased any lingering effects from the 8-5 loss to the Sharks, and Nashville rode the shoulders of its goaltender Pekka Rinne to squeak out a 1-0 victory.
Weber, in his second game back from injury, beat Ducks’ netminder Jonas Hiller with a one-timer from 40 feet after getting a return pass from Jason Arnott. It was the defenseman’s 13th goal on the season — the seventh on the power play.
Rinne, who signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract extension on Feb. 24, stopped all 31 shots he faced to earn the 11 shutout of his NHL career, moving to within one of Chris Mason for second place on Nashville’s all-time list. Tomas Vokoun sits at the top with 21 shutouts.
The Predators goaltender actually lost his last official shutout on Feb. 2, when the team fell 1-0 to Phoenix in a 10-round shootout.
Saturday’s win, Nashville’s second on the current four-game road trip moved the team back into the seventh playoff spot, two points ahead of idle Calgary. The Preds hope to improve on that when they face the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday afternoon.
As it did one night before, Nashville led its opponent after two periods, even though numbers were reversed — the Ducks had outshot and had more scoring chances than the Preds after 40 minutes. But Nashville did a better job staying out of the penalty box, giving Anaheim just one true opportunity to convert, which it didn’t do.
The loss was the fifth straight for the Ducks, who are plummeting out of the playoff picture. The team has lost four straight at the Honda Center, which follows a record 11-game home streak before the Olympic break.
Hiller deserved better offensive support, stopping 27 of 28 Nashville shots — allowing only the Weber goal while the Predators had a two-man advantage.
• The Predators reassigned defenseman Alexander Sulzer to Milwaukee, the team’s General Manager David Poile announced Friday.
Sulzer played Tuesday in Atlanta but did not see ice time in the team’s 8-5 loss in San Jose Thursday. He was recalled on March 8 because of injuries to Nashville’s defense corps. He has a pair of assists in 19 games for the Preds this season.
The Germany native represented his country’s Olympic hockey team, along with Marcel Goc, last month in Vancouver.
• The Predators finish out the road trip Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. The 2 p.m. contest will be shown on Fox Sports Tennessee.