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Predators' Pekka Rinne shuts out Winnipeg Jets 2-0 to spoil home opener

10/18/2014 12:16 EDT | Updated 12/17/2014 05:59 EST
WINNIPEG - Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne says it just feels good to be back and in shape after a difficult year last season.

The veteran shut out the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 Friday night for his third victory in four games this season.

It spoiled the Jets home opener in front of a sold out MTS Centre but for Rinne, sidelined with a hip injury for most of last season, the team's 3-0-1 start is particularly satisfying.

"It was a tough season last year, battling with the injury, it took forever to get back," he said.

"I'm just having fun, enjoying hockey. I had a really good summer. I'm back to where I need to be physically and just trying to enjoy it and stay healthy."

Mike Ribeiro scored the only goal the visitors needed in the first period and James Neal added another at 7:31 of the third.

"We came in here with a good mindset," said Neal, like Ribeiro an addition to the Predators' lineup after the club missed the playoffs last season.

"We knew the Jets would be fired up."

Jets coach Paul Maurice said it was a disappointing way to open the season at home and despite the shots-on-goal edge for the Jets (31-27) he didn't think they had enough. The Jets and Predators came out tied for shots at even strength and on the power play but the Jets had four while short-handed.

"Part of it was it was a tight, tight game, there wasn't a lot of offence to be had," said Maurice.

"We've got to put more of the basic stuff to the net so we can bang some ugly ones in."

Ondrej Pavelec was also strong in the Winnipeg net and it took a little help for Nashville to score.

Ribeiro tipped a shot from Seth Jones high past Pavelec at 16:19 to get things started then Neal added the insurance through traffic with a puck that appeared to glance off a couple of Jets.

The Predators had four power plays and the Jets three, but neither scored. Both teams have struggled with their power play this season and it's not a new issue for Winnipeg, which ranked 25th in the NHL last season.

But new Nashville Centre Olli Jokinen, who played the last couple of seasons in Winnipeg, says both teams are getting chances.

"I think we got a lot of good looks," he said. "It's just a matter of time. The goals will come. We've been working that a lot in practice."

"Both teams had good looks on the power play. You've got to just stay the course. It's a long season and goals will come."

The Jets (1-3-0) have now gone four games without scoring a power-play goal and the Predators are doing only slightly better with one.

"They did a good job keeping things to the outside but I still think we got a few chances and some good looks," said Jets' captain Andrew Ladd.

"I think we have to have a sense of calm and confidence in here that we can fix a few things. We obviously know that we need to do some things better here and we'll move on tomorrow, work on them in practice and get better."

This is the second game out of four the Jets have played that they've been shut out. They lost 3-0 in San Jose Oct. 11.

But centre Bryan Little says it isn't as though they're not creating chances.

"Especially on the power play we had some great chances and their goalie came up and made big saves," said Little.

"We get a couple of goals next game and everyone gets that confidence back."

Rinne showed why his absence from the Nashville net was so painful last season, frustrating the Jets' best several times.

Winnipeg put on lots of pressure but the veteran drafted by Nashville in 2004 seemed to anticipate every move.

Rinne played only 24 games last season due to a hip injury as Nashville missed the playoffs for a second season a row and coach Barry Trotz was sacked.

Winnipeg's record for home openers fell to 1-3 with the loss.

Notes: The Jets (not counting their Atlanta years) are now 2-3-1 in their meetings with the Predators. Nashville's two seasons out of the playoffs were preceded by seven out of eight seasons in the playoffs, including two trips to the conference semis. The Jets have made just one appearance when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers (2007).

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