NEW YORK (AP)Rookie forward Philip Tomasino scored early in the second period and Juuse Saros made 32 saves for his second shutout of the season as the Nashville Predators beat the New York Rangers 1-0 on Sunday night.
The Predators have won five straight – with the last four coming on the road, including a sweep of the three New York area teams over a four-day stretch. They beat the Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night and New Jersey 3-2 on Friday night.
”All the games were different. I give the players credit,” Predators coach John Hynes said about the rare trio of road wins in the New York region. ”I really liked the mental focus of the guys. They rose to the task.”
Saros had six saves in the first period, 10 in the second and 16 in the third to pick up his 16th career shutout.
”We were pretty tight around the net, big blocks and the (penalty-kill) was good, too,” Saros said. ”When you get big points on the road, it boosts the team.”
Alexandar Georgiev had 23 saves for the Rangers, who lost for the second time in three games but for just the third time in their last 15. Georgiev has allowed two or fewer goals in five straight appearances and is 3-1-0 since starter Igor Shesterkin was injured against San Jose on Dec. 3.
”It feels good to be playing,” Georgiev said ”I feel good about playing a lot. Unfortunately today we didn’t get the win … Sometimes you have a slow start, getting the legs moving. We came back strong in the second period.”
Rangers coach Gerard Gallant liked what he saw from his backup goaltender.
”Outstanding,” Gallant said. ”He played a real solid game.”
After a scoreless first period, Tomasino scored his fifth goal of the season at 1:44 of the second with assists to Filip Forsberg and defenseman Alexandre Carrier. Forsberg has 11 points – seven goals, four assists – in his last 10 games.
The 20-year-old Tomasino, a first-round draft pick the Predators in 2019, was able to elude Georgiev with a shot from just inside the blue line.
”They are top five team in the league. This was a big goal for the team and for myself,” Tomasino said. ”This was an unbelievable road trip for us. We’re having fun.”
The goal held up as Saros stood tall in the third period.
”They were finishing all their checks and winning all the battles,” Rangers forward Chris Kreider said. ”That can’t happen.”
The Rangers had a power-play chance at 6:25 of the third but Saros stymied Ryan Strome from in close with a right pad stop, then denied Strome again with a glove save.
Nashville was without two of its top scorers. Ryan Johansen – who has three goals and 12 assists in his last 11 games – missed the game after he was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list on Sunday. And center Matt Duchene, who has 25 points, missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury.
”It’s not good enough when their best two players aren’t playing and we didn’t do enough,” Gallant added. ”They played a hard road game.”
The game included another open-ice hit by Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba, who collided shoulder-first with Nashville’s Luke Kunin late in the second period.
Last Tuesday at Chicago, Trouba appeared to drive his right shoulder into the chin of Jujhar Khaira, sending the Blackhawks’ forward to the hospital and into concussion protocol. The next night at home against Colorado, Trouba hit Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon with a shoulder check midway through the second period. The Avalanche’s Gabriel Landeskog immediately dropped his gloves and squared off against Trouba.
Trouba registered four hits against the Predators and has 25 hits in his last six games.
”You take a hit when it comes. It’s just part of the game,” Trouba said. ”I wouldn’t say I’m thinking about hitting people before the game starts. It just presented itself three games out of the last four. When the physicality is there, it’s there.”
Rangers left wing Chris Kreider played his 600th NHL game and became the 22nd skater to play in 600 games for the franchise. The 30-year-old Kreider, who leads the Rangers with 17 goals this season has 194 goals in his career. He is the 12th player from the first round of the 2009 draft to skate in 600 games. Kreider was the 19th overall selection.
NOTES: The Rangers won the previous meeting between the teams this season, 3-1 in Nashville on Oct. 21. … Predators forward Nick Cousins played his 400th NHL game. … The Rangers are 3-2-1 against Central Division teams. … Defenseman Libor Hajek made his season debut for the Rangers, who scratched defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Nils Lundkvist, plus forward Greg McKegg. … The Predators scratched defensemen Ben Harpur and Phillippe Myers.
Predators: Host Calgary on Tuesday night.
Rangers: At Colorado on Tuesday night.
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