Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Red-Hot Rinne Leads Predators to another Victory

The Nashville Predators are a game away from their first ever Conference Final as a franchise, and Pekka Rinne is one of the biggest reasons. The 34-year-old persevered in a goaltender battle with Jake Allen to spearhead the Predators to a 2-1 victory on Tuesday night in Nashville, staking Nashville to a 3-1 series lead over the St. Louis Blues in their best-of-7 series.

If Allen was the story of round one, when he almost singlehandedly shut down the Minnesota Wild in five games, Rinne is becoming the story of the playoffs for the Predators.

"I'm feeling good," Rinne, who stopped 32 of 33 Blues shots, said. "I'm confident, playing pretty well right now."

That might be the understatement of this year's playoffs.

Rinne leads all NHL starting goalies in wins, save percentage and goals against average in the playoffs, and he's won seven of eight for the Predators.

On Tuesday he was spectacular throughout, and matched by Allen for much of the game until Ryan Ellis came through with a power play goal at 5:06 of the third to give the Predators a 1-0 lead. Ellis has now scored a point in seven consecutive games and he leads all NHL defenseman in playoff points with nine.

James Neal added an unassisted goal for Nashville at 13:03 before Joel Edmundson broke Rinne's shutout at 16:11.

The Blues pushed at the finish but could not get a puck past Rinne. They head home to St. Louis facing elimination for the first time in the playoffs.

Game 5 is Friday night in St. Louis.


Last year Rinne went 7-7 with a 2.63 GAA and a .907 save percentage... This year he's 7-1 with a 1.33 and a .953... The Finn has never finished a playoff season with a save percentage higher than .929 or a GAA lower than 2.07... This season Rinne did finish with his best save percentage since 2011-12 (.918) and has proceeded to prove that he can still be a peak performer under pressure for the Predators.