Edmonton Oilers left wing Ethan Moreau, left, fights for the puck with Nashville Predators right wing Joel Ward in the first period of an NHL hockey game in Nashville, Tenn., Thursday, Oct. 30, 2008. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Mark Humphrey
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The only other time Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne started a game this season he allowed three goals in a little more than 14 minutes.
Despite that performance, Predators coach Barry Trotz said he had no problems in starting Rinne on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Rinne responded by stopping 27 shots in a 3-1 win. Rinne's only other appearance had been against the Columbus Blue Jackets Oct. 17.
"I wasn't concerned," Trotz said. "I think the last time he played he was trying too hard. Sometimes you just have to let them get through that first game and then they will relax."
Rinne was tested early. His first save was off a breakaway by Edmonton's Erik Cole.
"We turned the puck over in our zone and Cole went in on the breakaway," Trotz said. "Pekka made the save and I think that gave him a lot of confidence."
Rinne gave up a second-period goal to Sheldon Souray, who fired a shot from inside the blue-line that bounced high off his glove and into the net.
"It was a big game for me personally," Rinne said. "The guys did a great job of blocking shots from me when I couldn't see the puck. It was good to get a win."
Dan Ellis, the Predators' No. 1 goaltender injured his back at Washington on Tuesday night. He was having problems with stiffness and took off Wednesday from practice. He was ready to play against Edmonton if needed, but Trotz decided to give Rinne another chance.
"Having Dan sit out was more precautionary than anything," Trotz said. "With a stiff back, he is not going to be moving around like a goalie needs to move."
Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish was frustrated by the lack of production from his team.
"Rinne played well, but I have seen it enough to know that we have to be more productive," MacTavish said. "A constant for us has been missed shots. We are not producing offensively. It's that simple."
Shea Weber scored one goal and assisted on another for the Predators. Both times he sent shots from just inside the blue-line. His first attempt in the first period was redirected by Patric Hornqvist who got credit for the goal. His second, 1:28 into the second period, went through traffic and passed by Edmonton goaltender Mathieu Garon to his glove side.
"When Weber shoots it's going 100 miles per hour," Trotz said. "Second, the puck is going on net. He isn't trying to pick a corner. He is just shooting it on net."
Ryan Suter assisted on both of the goals.
"They are two, young emerging defencemen who are having a lot of success playing together," Trotz said. "They are getting production and so are several other defencemen on the team."
At 9:57 of the third period, Erat scored from the top of the slot, beating Garon to his glove side.
"I thought for the last 10 minutes that we pretty much locked it down against them," Trotz said. "They only had one chance during that stretch."
Notes: The Predators acquired forward Hugh Jessiman from the New York Rangers for future considerations and sent forward Josh Gratton to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenceman Tim Ramholt. ... Garon is 0-5 against the Predators in his past five starts. ... Predators defencemen have scored nine goals this season. ... The Predators are 5-0-0 when leading after the first period.