BUFFALO Rickard Rakell Jersey , N.Y. (AP) Predators stalwart Pekka Rinne briefly stopped to marvel when informed of the elite NHL goaltending company he joined in becoming a three-time 40-game winner – and after a shutout, no less.Only six players – Martin Brodeur and Terry Sawchuk, among them – had previously done that.”When you say that, it sounds pretty cool,” Rinne said, after stopping 35 shots in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. ”Those guys are legends of this game. They’ve done so much not only for the game of hockey but for the position of being a goalie. That’s great. That’s a credit to my teammates, big time, and also my coaching staff.”Rinne has been nearly unbeatable in winning his 11th straight game and improving to 40-9-4. And the 12-year veteran is carrying the NHL-leading Predators along with him in approaching numerous franchise milestones.Nashville set a team record by extending its point streak to 15 games (14-0-1). And the Predators won their ninth consecutive road game as part of a run in which they’re 12-0-3 in their past 15 to break yet another team record.”He’s unbelievable,” teammate Ryan Johansen said of Rinne. ”In our opinion, he’s been the most valuable player for us.”The rest of the Predators have been no slouches during a stretch in which they haven’t lost in regulation since a 3-1 setback against Detroit on Feb. 17.Johansen and Mike Fisher scored goals 4:34 apart in the second period. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Hartman then sealed it by scoring in the final four minutes.First-year Sabres coach Phil Housley could only tip his hat to Nashville, where he spent the previous four seasons as an assistant. Though the final score didn’t reflect it, Housley was pleased with how the Sabresm last in the Eastern Conference, held their own against the Predators for mostly two periods.”I can’t fault the way our guys played. I thought they brought their best game,” Housley said. ”One thing I’d like to see our guys do better is stop in front of the net and start pounding it Ryan Getzlaf Jersey , whacking at some loose pucks there.”Then again, Housley is all too familiar with how well Rinne can play when he gets into a groove.”If we could rattle him early and get him off his game a little bit, that’s the time we’ve got to take advantage,” Housley said. ”But once he settles in, he’s tough to beat.”Buffalo’s Jack Eichel burst up the left side and behind the Predators’ defense to drive across the crease only to have his shot stopped by Rinne’s left pad four minutes in. Rinne also got an assist from teammate Kevin Fiala, who got his stick out to stop Justin Bailey’s attempt to tap in a bouncing puck in the crease.Rinne kicked out his right pad to foil Nicholas Baptiste’s snap shot from the slot 2:30 into the second period. With the game still scoreless, Rinne snapped his glove to snag Jason Pominville’s rising slap shot from the right circle.Buffalo’s minor-league call-up Linus Ullmark stopped 28 shots, starting in place of Robin Lehner, who was sidelined with an undisclosed injury.Ullmark had little chance on Fisher’s goal that opened the scoring 12:29 into the second period.Fisher and teammate Scott Hartnell were both parked in front when Fisher deflected in Mikka Salomaki’s shot from the blue line. The Sabres challenged the goal by arguing Fisher interfered with Ullmark. The goal was allowed to stand despite a replay showing Fisher nudged the back of Ullmark’s skate in the crease and also got a hand on the goalie’s glove.Housley questioned the ruling.”I don’t know what you call goalie interference anymore,” Housley said. ”His skate hits Linus’ skate, which doesn’t allow him to get down into the butterfly and make the save.”There was no disputing Johansen’s goal. Ullmark stopped Viktor Arvidsson’s initial shot from the right circle. The rebound fell at Ullmark’s his feet where Forsberg chipped the puck to Johansen, who snapped it in the open left side.NOTES: Brodeur leads the list of 40-game winners by having done so eight times. Washington’s Braden Holtby is the only other active goalie to win 40 games three times. The other three-time 40-game-winners were Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Mikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov. … Sabres RW Kyle Okposo returned after missing three games with a concussion. … With 10 games left Womens Ryan Kesler Jersey , the Predators inched closer to matching franchise records for most wins (51) and points (110) set in 2006-07.UP NEXTPredators: Host Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.Sabres: Host Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday in matchup of NHL’s two worst teams.— NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Predators coach Peter Laviolette’s biggest challenge adding Finnish scoring whiz Eeli Tolvanen has been finding a spot for the teenager in his lineup.Yes, the Nashville Predators are that deep.It’s why the defending Western Conference champions have turned in their best season yet with their sights set on finishing what they couldn’t a year ago. Savvy drafting, surprising trades and a handful of salary-cap friendly contract extensions have the Predators on the verge of what could be a dominant run in the NHL.Boston, the Los Angeles Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks have run into salary cap issues or injuries that slammed the window shut on chasing the Stanley Cup. Dean Lombardi, who won two Stanley Cups with the Kings, said he thinks Nashville general manager David Poile has done the best job yet giving the Predators the chance to compete for the next five years.”He’s still got to win it, but I think he’s certainly positioned for that,” Lombardi said. ”To put a team of this quality together, which is one heck of a team. They can beat you in so many ways. They don’t have a weakness, and to be flexible going forward, I think is a remarkable job.”The Predators not only are in the playoffs for an 11th time in the franchise’s 20 years, they head into the postseason having clinched their first Central Division title and Western Conference regular-season title with a 4-3 win at Washington on Thursday night. Then a few minutes later, Boston’s 3-2 loss at Florida handed Nashville its first Presidents’ Trophy for good measure.Veteran center Mike Fisher Ryan Miller Jersey , who unexpectedly came out of retirement in February to rejoin the Predators, sees an even deeper roster than a season ago. Despite not having a single player among the NHL scoring leaders, eight Predators have at least 48 points apiece this season along with four different 20-goal scorers.”No question it’s stronger than last year for sure, as strong as I’ve been a part of,” Fisher said. ”You look at last year, you lose a couple key guys, and it made it tough. We were still real close. You just never know. Hopefully, we stay healthy. But you just never know. It’s always great to have that.”Poile didn’t stand pat with a team that lost the final to Pittsburgh in six games.With Fisher taking until August to announce his retirement , Poile signed center Nick Bonino as a free agent. Poile also signed center Ryan Johansen to the longest and richest contract the Predators have ever given out on their own, signing the then 24-year-old center to an eight-year, $64 million deal in July a couple days after signing Viktor Arvidsson to a seven-year deal.Those contracts, combined with a six-year deal in July 2016 for Filip Forsberg, tied up Nashville’s top line through the 2021-22 season for a tidy sum of $18.25 million per year.Poile joined Ottawa and Colorado in a three-way trade in November, bringing center Kyle Turris to Nashville . Poile also signed Turris to a six-year http://www.coyotesproshop.com/authen...ligoski-jersey , $36 million extension, keeping him under contract through 2023-24 like Johansen and Arvidsson. The Predators gave Fisher a one-year deal.Poile still had enough money to land forward Ryan Hartman at the trade deadline from Chicago, a seller that will finish last in the Central Division.One deal that could haunt Nashville depends on defenseman Shea Weber, the former captain traded to Montreal for defenseman P.K. Subban . That deal netted the Predators a younger and cheaper defenseman, but Nashville needs Weber to play until he’s 40 to finish the 14-year, $110 million deal first offered by Philadelphia or face a salary cap hit that would cost more in 2025-26 than the Predators’ current defense corps.The Predators are focused on this postseason with Laviolette taking advantage of his depth not to rush anyone back from injury.”Winning always solves a lot of problems, and we’ve been able to do that inside of this game plan,” Laviolette said.To some critics, adding Tolvanen at the risk of needlessly burning a year on the forward’s entry-level contract seemed almost like too much.Not to the Predators who remember forward Kevin Fiala breaking his leg in their second-round series with St. Louis last spring or Johansen needing emergency surgery for acute compartment syndrome suffered during the Western Conference finals against Anaheim. Johansen said depth matters most in the playoffs.”We feel like we’re in a great spot right now going into this postseason,” Johansen said. ”We got a lot of bodies that can not only play certain roles, but versatile players that can step up and be great players in any area of the game. So for us, our team feels really confident in what our capabilities are.”—