NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are really good. Bruce Boudreau on Monday called them the best defensive pairing in the NHL.
Tuesday night, they showed why.
Not only did Suter and Weber shut down Alex Ovechkin, but they contributed offensively in the Nashville Predators’ 3-1 victory over the Capitals. Suter and Weber set up the tying goal 28 seconds after Washington took the lead, providing a stunning momentum shift.
“It was huge – what a play by Weber,” Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne said. “He used his speed, he was protecting the puck and he made a nice pass to Marty [Erat], who pretty much had an open net. That was huge.”
Weber, who added an empty-netter to seal the Predators’ sixth win in nine games, has an unbelievable plus-14 rating in that time. Every game has been against a playoff team.
Suter, whose puck-handling set the stage for the tying goal, has been almost equally as good as Weber, a Norris Trophy finalist last spring.
Playing together, the duo is almost unstoppable.
“There’s definitely chemistry there,” Weber said. “We’ve played together for quite a while now, so it’s kind of like a second nature – you just kind of know what each other are doing, and it makes things easier when you play together for a while.”
Ovechkin was only on the ice for 16:56, meaning Weber (22:06) and Suter (24:05) both played a season-low. But the effectiveness was there to keep the Caps star off the scoresheet. Ovechkin finished with a minus-2 rating.
Weber and Suter thrived on the challenge of stopping him.
“Not only is he one of the most skilled players in the world, he’s a big and strong guy, so it’s fun,” Weber said. “A lot of times we get the super-skilled guys who aren’t the big hitters. But he’s one of those guys who likes to play aggressive and physical as well.”