Preds Shut Out Panthers in Nashville

Anders Lindback and the Nashville Predators pitched a shutout on Saturday against Florida, winning 3-0. The victory was their fifth in the last six games as they steadily climb up the Western Conference standings.

The first period started with a bang for the Predators. 1:14 into the game, Ryan Suter sneaked in back-door and one-timed a cross-zone feed past Tomas Vokoun. Martin Erat delivered the pinpoint pass.

Midway through the first, Jordin Tootoo laid a massive hit on Florida’s Michael Frolik that sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was a clean hit that sent Frolik flipping over to the ice along the boards.

With 3:11 left in the first, Suter – from behind the net – found a wide-open Shea Weber at the top of the circle to make it a 2-0 score. Weber’s patented cannon from the blueline found the back of the net for the first time in a while.

It was a rather uneventful second period as both teams went scoreless. Teams traded power play chances, but neither could convert.

The third was all about Lindback. On the verge of his first career shutout, Lindback made some key saves late in the game as the Panthers started to press. The defense locked down and the 22-year-old Swede shut the door on the offensive-challenged Panthers.

Joel Ward wrapped up the win with his empty-net goal at the 19:06 mark, putting Nashville ahead 3-0.

Post-Game Quotes

Barry Trotz on recent team success…

“Important people on our team are hitting their stride and filling those holes. That’s a Sutes, that’s a Marty Erat, Marcel Goc, Kostitsyn – everybody’s sort of hitting their stride. We’re getting good production from guys like Jerred Smithson and Tootoo – and that’s how we’re going to be successful. I just think we’re getting healthy and everybody’s a big part of the contribution. If we do that, we’re back to playing Predator Hockey.”

Ryan Suter on Lindback…

“When (Florida) called the timeout there at the end, we said ‘Let’s bear down for him’; you can’t say ‘shutout’ on the bench, but we definitely wanted to get it for him.”

Shea Weber on Lindback…

“He’s been great. Like I’ve said before, we’ve known how good he is from practice and from the start of the year. It’s no surprise to us… I think he’s just showing everyone else what he can do.”

Jordin Tootoo on his hit…

“I kind of read the play right from the breakout. It was a clean hit. Not much else to say. Just got to keep your head up in this league.”

Jordin Tootoo on recent team success…

“I think guys are really playing for each other. When you come down to it, when you battle hard for each other things just seem to go your way. We don’t want to get too high; just want to stay even-keeled.”

Final Thoughts

Outside of the first ten minutes of this game, there wasn’t much excitement – which could be viewed as a testament to the Preds for not sleepwalking and allowing the Panthers to get back into the game. Florida never sustained any pressure until the last five minutes when it was too late.

It was great to see Lindback post his first shutout of the season. He has definitely filled in nicely in Pekka Rinne’s absence, and that once again showed on Saturday.

The Preds have a busy week coming up, playing four games in six nights. With the Islanders coming to town on Monday, this team needs to stay focused like they did in this game. Nashville is back in the top eight of the playoff picture, but is one bad week from sliding in the ultra-tight Western Conference.

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