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Offense ignites late, Rinne earns 2nd straight shutout

(Photo by: John Russel/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators were able to end their scoring drought in regulation during the third period, scoring the only three goals of the game that led them to a 3-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. It took a long time for the scoring to appear, but it happened better late than never. After the game, the Preds’ were proud to get payback on the Coyotes.

“After losing to them 4-0 on the road, to beat them 3-0 here tonight is a big momentum push for us,” said Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, who finished with an assist on the night.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was able to earn his second straight shutout by outplaying Mike Smith in the other net. Rinne stopped all 19 shots that came his way. But credit goes to where credit is due and that is to the players up front limiting Phoenix’s time of possession and being able to block shots.

After a scoreless, back-and-forth stalemate of the first and second period, the goalies were the ones who shined. Pekka Rinne kept the Coyotes scoreless in the first with great saves on the penalty kill, while Mike Smith shined at the end of the second with huge saves on Mike Fisher and Gabriel Bourque in front of the net, while Smith was down and out. “We’ve had some great chances, they should’ve gone in, but they didn’t,” said Predators assistant Peter Horachek.

The third period was a different story as it was all Nashville scoring three goals. The first one came 2:40 in on the power play from Bourque, who deflected Martin Erat’s shot from the near boards with his skate. The puck rolled off Smith’s leg pad and just tucked inside the far post. 9:38 in, Nick Spaling scored top shelf from the left circle to Smith on his glove side, giving the Preds a 2-0 lead.

However, when everyone thought Nashville was going into a shell, they kept on pushing to give them padding to a lead. With 1:44 remaining in regulation, defenseman Ryan Ellis was working the boards low on the attack, and then found an open Fisher in the high slot, who was able to score the final goal of the night.

Rinne was able to hold on after a few rushes by the Coyotes throughout the period, earning himself another shootout.

Line Up Report

Starting Goaltenders:

Name SV SH Goals Allowed SV % Decision TOI
#35 Pekka Rinne 19 19 0 1.000 WIN 60:00
#41 Mike Smith 26 29 3 .897 LOSS 60:00

Predators Scratches: #23 W Brian McGrattan and #75 D Hal Gill (undisclosed injury)

Coyotes Scratches: #12 W Paul Bissonnette and #20 D Chris Summers

Nashville Predators vs. Phoenix Predators?: Entering this game, everyone knew how similar the systems of Dave Tippett and Barry Trotz are. Hard forechecks, tight play, defense first and anchored by good goaltenders. Essentially Thursday night, they were playing in a scrimmage against themselves.

As of late, the Phoenix Coyotes have benefited greatly in playing the Nashville Predators because they can match up well with them, but Thursday night, the tables turned as Nashville was able to get the best out of Phoenix.

The type of hockey these teams play may not be exciting, but rather an interesting strategic game when they meet.

Offensive Surge: It took 212:39 in regulation time for the Predators to score a regulation goal. That goes all the way back to Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild, which is three games ago. However, the scoring finally came 2:40 in the third period by none other than a fluky goal that was able to slip past Mike Smith.

After that goal, the Predators seemed to gain a great deal of confidence by scoring two more quality goals that Smith wasn’t able to stop. The total shots from Nashville were 29, higher than the usual amount of shots.  Nashville has found their scoring touch and will need to be carried over to Saturday night against the Anaheim Ducks.

Goals and Assists

1-0 NSH: PP Gabriel Bourque – Erat and Weber at 2:40 in the 3rd

2-0 NSH: Nick Spaling – Halischuck and Wilson at 9:38 in the 3rd

3-0 NSH: Mike Fisher – Ellis and Erat at 18:16 in the 3rd

My Three Stars of the Game

1. Pekka Rinne: Shutout, 19 saves

2. Nick Spaling: Goal

3. Martin Erat: 2 Assists

Highlights

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