The month of February has been very kind to the Nashville Predators. Not only have they tallied 13 of a possible 16 points, but their prized Finnish goaltender, Pekka Rinne, has stood on his head every minute he was on the ice. Nashville is finally showing everyone why they’re constantly Stanley Cup contenders.
Blanked By Blackhawks
Entering their game against a team like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Preds knew it would be a challenge. Chicago was still undefeated in regulation (10-0-2), while the Predators were still trying to find a way to break their scoring drought.
During the first period, neither team got very many shots on net. The play was very much back-and-forth, but things seemed to be going good for Nashville as they weren’t allowing Chicago to acquire many scoring chances.
That changed in the second. Chicago’s Marcus Kruger sent one past Rinne at 6:14 of the second when Nashville defenseman Roman Josi tried to kick the puck out of the Preds’ zone. The puck landed right on Kruger’s stick, giving him his second goal of the season and the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead.
The was the first even-strength goal that Pekka Rinne has allowed since January 28th.
66 seconds later, Jonathan Toews made Chicago’s lead 2-0. Duncan Keith slapped a shot towards the net from the right circle with Toews screening Rinne. The puck ramped off his chest and over Rinne at 7:20.
Patrick Kane notched his ninth goal of the season and gave his team a 3-0 lead in the third period after taking a quick shot at Rinne from the left dasherboards.
Chicago’s win ended the Preds four-game winning streak and marked the Blackhawks’ first regulation shutout since March 23, 2011, against the Florida Panthers.
As for what Nashville’s head coach Barry Trotz had to say about the loss: “I mean just put a tent over that circus. You make five, six mistakes like that, it’s going to end up in your net. It wasn’t a classic goal or anything.”
Second Shutout Over Sharks
Nashville added another game to the San Jose Sharks’ losing streak by winning 1-0 in overtime.
With not much action at all during all 60 minutes of regulation, Preds’ fans were not surprised that it took overtime to decide the game. Play was very back-and-forth once again, with Nashville only tallying 3 shots to San Jose’s 13 in the first period alone. Coach Barry Trotz was not pleased.
“Trotzy kind of woke us up between periods. We deserved that,” goalie Pekka Rinne stated.
The Predators had to kill off six power-plays for the Sharks, preserving Rinne’s shutout into overtime.
With only 2:08 left in the maximum 5:00 overtime, Preds’ forward Colin Wilson tipped the puck between Sharks’ goalie Antti Niemi after teammate and defenseman Ryan Ellis drove up the middle of the ice and took a quick shot at the net.
“I got the tip on it and it just kind of squeaked behind him,” stated Wilson on his game-winning goal.
Both goalies recorded 25 saves. Pekka Rinne’s shutout was his second of the season, his first being against the Los Angeles Kings on February 7.
Make That Three Shutouts
Pekka Rinne really is Nashville’s savior. With an offense that is struggling to produce goals, they don’t have to worry about Rinne giving up too many. Make that none at all in Nashville’s 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
In games where the first goal is slow to be notched, the Preds know the first goal could always be the deciding one.
With the first goal of the game coming at 2:40 of the third period, momentum swung in Nashville’s favor. Martin Erat sent a wrist shot towards the net, while Gabriel Bourque had his back facing Coyotes’ goalie Mike Smith. The puck deflected off Bourque’s skate and slid past Smith on his stick side.
Halfway through the third period, Nick Spaling netted another goal for Nashville. Standing at the right faceoff dot, Spaling took a pass from Matt Halischuk and buried the puck between Smith and the crossbar.
Mike Fisher ended the game with the Preds’ third goal at 2:42 remaining.
Rinne only had to make 19 saves to record his third shutout of the season, all three within his last four starts.