Rangers 2, Predators 0

Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Returning home to start a two-month long stretch where they'll rarely have to leave town, the Nashville Predators ran into an old problem: A lack of goal-scoring.
Rookie goaltender Cam Talbot gave Henrik Lundqvist a Saturday night off and turned away 17 shots for his second consecutive shutout as the New York Rangers posted a 2-0 victory over the Predators at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.
It was the fifth time in 23 games that Nashville was blanked, and the third time in the last eight. The Predators (11-10-2) scored 13 goals in winning their last three games, all against Original Six foes.
But their latest Original Six opponent controlled this one from the get-go, owning territorial and shot advantages throughout. Nashville goalie Marek Mazanec (3-3-0) came up with 32 saves to keep his team in it, but didn't have much of a chance on New York's scoring plays.
Defenseman Ryan McDonagh put the Rangers (12-11-0) on the board at 13:13 of the second period, deflecting a blue line slap shot from defenseman Dan Girardi past Mazanec. Left winger Mats Zuccarello drew the second assist on the goal, McDonagh's fifth.
New York added insurance at 7:45 of the third. Center Derek Stepan stole the puck from left winger Viktor Stalberg at center ice, then finished off a 2-on-1 when he converted Zuccarelli's feed into his fifth goal.
Talbot (5-1-0), who has won his last five starts, is the first Rangers rookie goalie to hold opponents to two goals or less in his first six starts since Lorne Chabot did it in 1926-27. Talbot didn't have a lot of work in this one, but was sharp when called upon.
He denied the Predators the game's first goal less than six minutes into the second period, turning away a tip-in by center Paul Gaustad at the goal mouth. Just before that save, he knocked down a backhand try from the slot by center Craig Smith.
Talbot was also lucky late as defenseman Shea Weber hit the goalpost with a slap shot in the last minute.
It was the first of 20 home games in the next 29 dates for Nashville, which was playing just its ninth home game of the year.
NOTES: Nashville scratched C Filip Forsberg with an upper-body injury, but LW Eric Nystrom returned to the lineup after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury. ... New York was awarded penalty shots in its previous two games, only the second time in franchise history that has happened. The first time? Way back in November of 1934. ... Predators RW Patric Hornqvist left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return. ... The Rangers' first period penalty kill made them 14 of 15 in their last five-plus games, dating back to Nov. 10.

What to Read Next