Fresh off a shutout in his debut with his new team, Hackett made 18 saves and Joe Thornton scored a power-play goal as the Bruins extended their unbeaten streak to five games with a 2-1 triumph over the Nashville Predators.
Hackett, still wearing Canadiens’ pads and a Montreal-themed mask, came within 8 1/2 minutes of his second straight shutout before Andreas Johansson beat him with a slap shot from the right side for his team-leading 18th goal.
That ended 111 minutes, 57 seconds of shutout play for Hackett, who became the first goalie to record a shutout in his Bruins’ debut since Jacques Plante on March 4, 1973.
“I don’t think of shutouts. I just think of bearing down to give yourself the luxury of a mistake happening,” said Hackett, who improved to 9-8-2. “In Montreal, I never got the chance to get the ball and run with it, and it’s nice to get two games in four days. But it’s a different situation here and I’m just enjoying playing.”
Thornton continued to capitalize on the man advantage, scoring his team-leading eighth power-play goal with 1:55 to go in the second period for a 2-0 cushion.
“Lately, it seems like we’ve been moving puck really well,” he said. “We’re just finding each other and had good scoring chances.”
But the difference was the Bruins’ penalty-killing. They extended their streak without allowing a power-play goal to 16 chances, dating to a 3-3 tie with Washington on January 20.
“The power play and penalty-kill are huge in this league right now, especially with all the penalties being called,” said Predators left wing Scott Hartnell, who had his career-high six-game points streak snapped. “They got one on us and our power play had to match. It was just frustrating to watch and to be out there and not be able to (score).”
Boston also got just enough to hand goalie Tomas Vokoun his second loss in 10 decisions.
“It’s not what they did to us, but what we needed to do,” said Vokoun, who made 23 saves.
The rest of the game was played at a slower pace.
“It was a weird game, very slow,” said Thornton, who also set up Knuble’s goal. “But we were very patient and we didn’t panic when they scored that goal. It was a good character win.”
Thornton’s team-leading 62nd point gave Boston some breathing room. Michal Grosek came off the right side and put a shot off the right goalpost. Thornton was able to put in the rebound after Predators defenseman Jason York fanned on a clearing attempt.
But the star was Hackett, who is 2-0-0 while wearing red, white and blue pads with his black and gold Bruins’ uniform.
“I don’t have a problem (with the pads),” Knuble quipped. “As long as he keeps stopping the pucks, he can keep them on.”