RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Nashville’s Pekka Rinne has been around the NHL long enough to know that time off for a goalie can work two ways.
“Sometimes it can be beneficial and sometimes it can be bad because you overthink things,” Rinne said.
A three-game break was good for Rinne, who made 31 saves in the Predators’ 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night.
Rocco Grimaldi, Calle Jarnkrok and Austin Watson scored for the Predators, who broke a six-game losing streak against the Hurricanes.
The 37-year-old Finn won for the first time in five starts. It was his 58th career shutout and 350th career win in his 14th NHL season.
He had been in a slump. He didn’t make it through three of the previous four losses.
“He bounced back in a big way,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. “He had some big saves. I thought he was excellent.”
Rinne was good early and needed to be. The Hurricanes were buzzing the net to start the game, but couldn’t score on 12 first-period shots.
“I thought they had more jump in the first 5 or 10 minutes and (Rinne) stood on his head and made some really big saves to keep us in the game,” Grimaldi said.
Rinne, who picked up his first win since Nov. 4 at Detroit, said it was important for his confidence to start strong.
“I got off to a good start and I think that was the key,” Rinne said. “After that, I felt really good.”
Grimaldi gave the Predators a 1-0 lead at 8:15 with a breakaway goal on Carolina’s Petr Mrazek (25 saves). It was Mrazek’s first career loss to Nashville in nine starts.
Jarnkrok made it 2-0 with 2:05 left in the first on a nice pass from Filip Forsberg. Rinne made a glove save on Ryan Dzingel with 22.4 seconds left in the period, and the stop might have been his best of the game.
Nashville extended its lead to 3-0 when Watson deflected in a long shot from the point by Mattias Ekholm.
The Predators have won three of their past four games and have at least a point in four straight. They had lost eight of nine before the recent surge.
“We’re playing the right way,” Grimaldi said. “Everyone is contributing in their own way. Our team is definitely trending in the right direction.”
Rinne was quick to give the credit to his teammates. He wasn’t ready to contemplate the meaning of Friday’s milestone win.
“I’m sure I’m going to appreciate it (when I retire), way more than right now,” Rinne said. “Right now, I feel like it’s still a work in progress.”
The Hurricanes dropped their second straight game and third in five. It was their first loss to Nashville since January 2016. They went 0 for 3 on the power play.
“They played a great road game,” Carolina center Jordan Staal said. “We could have been better, especially on the power play.”
NOTES: Carolina winger Andrei Svechnikov had his nine-game points streak snapped. … Nashville center Kyle Turris was a healthy scratch for the sixth straight game. … The Hurricanes lost for the first time this season in their black jerseys. They are 19-5-2 since the start of the 2018-19 season when they wear their alternate jerseys. … Forsberg has 10 points in the past 12 games for the Predators.
Predators: At the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Hurricanes: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
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