Predators flex defensive muscle ahead of Flames' visit
Calgary Flames at Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators made a big investment on Tuesday, and they did it in an area in which the club already excels -- defense.
The Predators signed defenseman Roman Josi to an eight-year, $72.472 million contract that will keep the Swiss blueliner in the Music City through the 2027-28 season.
Josi and the Predators host the Calgary Flames on Thursday in the first meeting of the season between the teams.
If there is one aspect of the game that Nashville general manager David Poile focuses on frequently, it is securing the back end of his lineup -- starting with goaltender Pekka Rinne and moving out into the rear guard.
Last Nov. 3, on Rinne's 36th birthday, Poile inked the Finnish netminder to a two-year, $10 million contract extension.
Later that night against Boston, Rinne -- the franchise's record-holder for most wins and shutouts -- blanked Boston 1-0 in a 26-save performance.
On Tuesday it was Josi who had his turn, as Poile and the organization made a sizable commitment to their captain.
"Roman Josi is one of the top defensemen in the National Hockey League and our team leader as captain," Poile said. "As he enters his prime, we look forward to Roman continuing to showcase his elite skills in Smashville and guiding our team in pursuit of the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup."
While Josi, 29, has been strong in his defensive responsibilities, he has been even better providing offense for the Central Division team.
Josi's 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 12 games tied him for third among the NHL's defensemen entering Wednesday's games. Fellow blueliner Ryan Ellis (two goals, 11 assists) also has a baker's dozen.
Nick Bonino scored all three goals for his third career hat trick, and Rinne posted 20 saves for his 57th career shutout in Tuesday night's 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
It was the Predators' season-high fourth straight victory, and Rinne recorded his second consecutive shutout.
Calgary led 1-0 over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday, but the Flames couldn't make Elias Lindholm's eighth tally stand up.
In fact, they gave up a pair of goals -- one on a marker that is an early Goal of the Year candidate -- in a 2-1 loss to the Metropolitan team.
At 6-6-2 through 14 games, Calgary is treading water and on pace for an 82-point campaign, which would have the Flames solely concerned about next June's draft in Montreal.
In the Carolina loss, Calgary failed to score a power-play goal for the first time in four games and managed just four third-period shots. The buzz afterward was all about Andrei Svechnikov's dazzling lacrosse-style goal that evened the game at 1.
The Hurricanes' left winger placed his stick flat on the ice, scooped the puck onto the blade and wrapped the puck into the net past Calgary netminder David Rittich.
"They were skating better than us, they were all over us," Flames right winger Matthew Tkachuk said. "They took it to us and had all the momentum in the world, and (Svechnikov) scored an awesome goal there."
--Field Level Media
Updated October 30, 2019