OTTAWA — Just like good pitching will beat good hitting, a hot goalie is difficult to overcome. Juuso Saros is one such example.
Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist Monday as the Nashville Predators earned a hard fought 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators, but the story of the game was Saros who made 38 saves for his first shutout of the season and the 18th of his NHL career.
Saros has stopped 102 of the 105 shots fired his way over his past two games, following a 64-save performance in a 5-3 win over Carolina on Jan. 5.
“I felt good out there, mostly. I had a lot of help today. We had a lot of blocks and our penalty kill was really good. I’ve got to give some credit to the guys,” Saros said, referencing 22 blocked shots by the Predators.
“I’m just trying to see the puck and read the plays. Obviously, I’ve had some puck luck in these (recent) games, as well. I like to play. Obviously, it’s been a lot of shots, but I don’t feel tired.”
Forsberg had the lone goal of the third period as he beat Cam Talbot in the Ottawa net on a 2-on-1 at 7:30 and the Predators (19-14-6) won for the fourth consecutive time.
“Even before we started winning, we were playing better hockey. And I thought there was a stretch where we didn’t get the results, but we were playing better and building our game," said Forsberg.
"And now, obviously the results have been coming. But at the same time, we’ve got more than half the year left — we’ve got to keep building our game and keep finding wins."
Talbot made 33 saves for the Senators (18-19-3), who have now lost two straight.
“It sucks to lose the game, it sucks to get shut out, but I think at least the effort, the attitude, that’s acceptable. We turned it over a little too much, they were pretty tight in their game plan and we veered just slightly from ours,” Senators forward Austin Watson said.
“If we learned anything from when we got going good in December it’s that we’re good when we play the way the Ottawa Senators play. We don’t play run-and-gun, we don’t turn pucks over. We’re north south, we dump and chase. It might not be sexy, but it works for us.”
The Senators were playing a strong game and held an 11-5 advantage in shots through the opening 14 minutes of the first period. How quickly things changed.
Within a 32-second span the Senators went from being in charge to being in a hole as the Predators struck twice for a 2-0 lead.
Josi took advantage of a Senators turnover at their own blue line and put a chip shot over the shoulder of Talbot at 14:29. Lauzon redirected a Tanner Jeannot wraparound attempt into the Senators net at 15:01.
“I thought there were a lot of guys who played hard, but there were a couple of guys that turned pucks over and it ends up in the back of the net. You can’t. Not in this league. You can’t give up odd man rushes. We did and both of them ended up in the back of the net,” Senators coach DJ Smith said.
The Predators appeared to go up 3-0 later in the period but after video review the play was ruled offside.
The was no scoring in the second period although Brady Tkachuk appeared to get the Senators on the scoreboard, but after a challenge from the Predators, that play was also ruled offside and the goal was disallowed.
Monday’s game was the second and final game of the regular season between the Senators and Predators. The Senators were 3-2 winners at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Dec. 10. … Predators forwards Cole Smith and Michael McCarron, along with defenceman Roland McKeown, were scratches Monday. … Predators captain Roman Josi scored his 150th career goal Monday. … Both the Predators and Senators went 0-for-5 on the power play.
The Senators hit the road for three straight games, starting Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Predators conclude their five-game road trip with stops in Toronto on Wednesday and Montreal on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2023.
Darren Desaulniers, The Canadian Press