Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pekka Rinne Shuts Out Vancouver in 3-0 Win

Pekka Rinne was perfect in Vancouver on Thursday night as he stopped all 29 Canuck shots in route to his fifth shutout of the season. The Predators put together their best sixty minute effort in the 3-0 win since their last game against Vancouver three weeks ago.

All three Predator goals were scored in the final period. Blake Geoffrion had the game winner which was followed by a late insurance goal by Patric Hornqvist and an empty netter by David Legwand in the closing minute.

Roberto Luongo played perfect hockey until the end as he stopped 26 of 28 Predator shots in what was a classic goaltending battle until late in the contest.

With the win, the Preds moved from eleventh place in the Western Conference, where they had fallen after the East coast action, to sixth with 75 points. They could fall behind the Kings, pending the outcome of their game with the Coyotes.

The first period was a tale of two halves. The Predators started slow as Rinne kept the team in the game with several acrobatic saves. By the end of the period the Preds were much more in control and putting up a much more solid attack.Vancouver led in shots 11-8 and also the Corsi 25-17.

The middle period was more of the same. Early on, the Predators had a four shot power play, which is rare for them. As the period wound down both team came close to goals as Mason Raymond hit the crossbar and then Jordan Tootoo did the same at the other end. The Preds led in shots 9-6 and in the Corsi 21-14.

The Preds finally broke the ice at 1:59 in the third when Jordin Tootoo battled a puck away from Ryan Kesler behind the net and fed it to a waiting Geoffrion in the slot who scored his second goal in two games to make it 1-0 Nashville.

The teams then traded power play opportunities with the Preds getting no shots and the Canucks picking up a pair, including one in a series of shots where Rinne made an incredible save to protect the Pred's lead.

As the clock wound down at 17:39, Hornqvist stole a puck from Dan Hamhuis as he tried to break out of the Vancouver zone. He then took it straight at Luongo, deeked, and slipped it past him for the goal.

After the Canuck goalie pull, Marty Erat took a shot from center ice and missed but Legwand got the rebound and picked up the empty netter at 19:25 to finish off Vancouver with a 3-0 win.

The Predators and Canucks tied in shots at 12 in the final period. Vancouver led the Corsi 22-16 as they peppered the net playing desperate hockey late.

Another great example of why the NHL needs to adopt some form of no touch icing when Cody Franson won a race to the puck but hit the board hard rolling his ankle in the third period. He was able to return for a pair of shifts in the closing minutes. Jerred Smithson was also shaken up in the last minute of play.

The Predators won't play again until Sunday and will actually stay in Vancouver on Friday before traveling to Calgary. They will finish the four game road trip in San Jose on Tuesday.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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