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Rinne puts Preds back on track

Rinne puts Preds back on track

Posted: Thursday, May 3, 2012 7:00 pm

By CHRIS TALBOTT
Associated Press
NASHVILLE (AP) — Even on his stomach, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne was too much for the Phoenix Coyotes.
Rinne returned to dominating form with 32 saves — including one while laying on his back during a 5-on-3 power play late in the third period. His teammates upped the intensity as the Predators notched their first playoff shutout in eight years with a 2-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
“You put a lot of pressure on yourself and it feels good to win this one and play a solid game,” Rinne said. “It makes the series totally different now.”
Rinne got two opportunistic goals from teammates David Legwand and Mike Fisher midway through the first period, and that was all he needed as he turned the lackluster Coyotes away again and again to cut Phoenix’s series lead to 2-1.
After giving up nine goals on the road as the Predators fell behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven matchup, Rinne was rarely challenged until late when he made a series of incredible saves to secure his first playoff shutout and the first for the Predators since a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on April 13, 2004.
With key forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn suspended by coach Barry Trotz for what he hinted were curfew violations, the Predators responded by returning to the three keys that helped them to a milestone sweep of the Red Wings in this year’s first round: effort, opportunism and defense.
Trotz liked what he saw out of the Predators without those two contributors and said while it’s too early to make a final decision, he might keep the lineup the same Friday when the teams meet for Game 4 in Nashville.
“It’s very hard to change it if everybody is committed like they were,” Trotz said. “It’s a statement. It’s a privilege to play in the NHL playoffs for the Stanley Cup.”
With Fisher and Martin Erat setting the tone early with physical play, the Predators took advantage of two early mistakes by the Coyotes to build a quick lead. Rinne, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy given to the NHL’s top goalie, made the goals stand up.
Published in The Messenger 5.3.12

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