Subban, Rinne lead Predators over Devils 3-0

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

By TOM CANAVAN

AP Sports Writer

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) The Nashville Predators are rolling, which is nothing new. That's the way they have played all season.

All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban scored in his third straight game and Pekka Rinne made 23 saves for his fourth shutout in leading the streaking Predators to a 3-0 victory over the slumping New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

"For the most part, the whole season, we have been pretty consistent, playing good hockey," said Rinne, who also will be heading to Tampa, Florida, for the All-Star game this weekend. "Of the last 14 points, I think we've collected 13 of them. That's a good strong finish before the break, but now the season really starts. We have to be happy the way we have been playing so far."

Nashville, which also got goals from Mattias Ekholm and Viktor Arvidsson, has points in a season-high eight games (6-0-2) heading into the break. It is six points behind Tampa Bay in the race for the NHL's best regular-season record with two games in hand.

"I feel like we have always been good defensively, and we found our way back to it from the playoffs last year when we were playing better and better in front of Pekks and Jusse (Saros)," Arvidsson said. "It's nice to have and nice to know we can do it."

With regular goaltenders Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid injured, rookie Ken Appleby made 24 saves in his first career start for the Devils, who have lost four straight in regulation. New Jersey has two wins in its last 12 games (2-7-3).

Subban, who also had an assist on Arvidsson's goal, gave Rinne the only goal he would need with a wicked slap shot from the right point that beat Appleby midway through the second period. It was his 12th of the season, three shy of his career high set with Montreal in 2014-15.

"His shots just seem to go in," Rinne said of Subban. "He has a great shot. He finds the net. He is good at using screens. He is good at just getting pucks by the other guy's legs. I feel of late, the puck has eyes when he is seeing it or shooting it. He has been big for us."

Ekholm scored early in the third period on a slap shot that deflected off the stick of Devils forward Kyle Palmieri, while Arvidsson scored short-handed with just under five minutes to play.

Rinne had a little luck in winning his 24th game. The Devils had a goal by defenseman Will Butcher waved off in the first period because of goaltender interference, and Nico Hischier and Stefan Noesen each hit a goalpost.

"It's not about getting people back," Devils coach John Hynes said. "It's about the players in the lineup. They have to play. They have to play better than we played tonight. We're not going to be healthy the whole year. So it has zero to do with who is out of the lineup. It's who is in the lineup and we have to play better."

NOTES: Devils All-Star forward Taylor Hall missed his third straight game with a hand injury. He will not be able to play this weekend and Brian Boyle, who battled cancer in the offseason, has been selected to replace him for the Devils. ... With Schneider and Kinkaid out, the Devils brought up Mackenzie Blackwood from Binghamton (AHL) to back up Appleby. ... C Kevin Rooney also was called up from the minors for the first time this season with Marcus Johansson out with a concussion. ... Rinne is now seven wins away from 300. ... Nashville is 22-2-3 when leading after two periods. New Jersey has been shut out in its last two home games, losing 3-0 to Detroit Monday.

UP NEXT:

Predators: host Chicago on Tuesday.

Devils: at Buffalo on Tuesday.

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Updated January 25, 2018

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