NEWARK, NJ — It’s almost as if everything P.K. Subban throws on goal finds a way into the net these days. It’s almost as if, during the same timespan, anything the Devils throw at the net will find a way to be kept out.
Subban scored for a third consecutive game while his teammate, goalkeeper Pekka Rinne made 27 saves as the Nashville Predators ended the unofficial first half of the season with a convincing 3-0 shutout victory over the New Jersey Devils, extending the home team’s woes going into the All-Star Break.
A cagey first 20 minutes saw both teams head into the first intermission scoreless, but then, midway though the second period, Subban received a pass from Mattias Ekholm at the left point and fired a hopeful shot that squeezed by Devils goalkeeper Ken Appleby at the 9:48 mark to give Nashville a 1-0 lead. The Predators made that lead stick throughout the period almost squarely on the power of their defense, as they only allowed the Devils seven shots on goal in each of the first two periods.
Though New Jersey had only those 14 shots after the first 40 minutes, three shots that didn’t register on the scoreboard as shots told the story of the Devils’ luck tonight – or lack thereof. Defenseman John Moore appeared to have broken the deadlock just four minutes into the game with a goal as the trailer on an odd-man rush, but teammate Miles Wood crashed into Rinne as the shot was flying into the net, disallowing the goal and sending Wood to the penalty box for goaltender interference.
Later in the first, Stefan Noesen gathered a loose puck in the slot and sent a wrist shot on goal that was deflected in front before caroming off the crossbar. With the game still scoreless in the second period, Nico Hischier performed a near-perfect wraparound from behind the net, but his shot hit off of Rinne’s far post and out, continuing the team’s frustrations.
Nashville doubled its lead early in the third on an Ekholm goal, then sealed the win with a Viktor Arvidsson short-handed goal at the 15:11 mark, assisted by Subban, to open up the three-goal advantage.
Appleby, making his first career start in goal while replacing injured goalkeepers Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid, made 24 saves for the Devils, who go into the All-Star Break losing four straight.