On this Thanksgiving, Nashville Predators fans give thanks to Pekka Rinne.
In front of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena, Rinne made 37 saves and even stopped a penalty shot in overtime to propel the Predators to a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Filip Forsberg scored an amazing goal in overtime to give his team the victory but the real story tonight was his goaltender.
“If it weren’t for him, we would’ve been in trouble,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “The first eight or nine minutes — I think everybody would admit — we were not sharp. We gave up too much and too many and, through the course of the game, he was as sharp as he was in the first eight or nine minutes.”
“He does it most nights and tonight he was unbelievable,” Mike Fisher said. “He made some unreal saves and gave us a chance. It was fun to get that one.”
Rinne now leads the league in wins with 15 as he improves to 15-3-1 on the year.
Nashville weathered the storm early as Edmonton put 14 shots on goal in the first period, including the first nine of the game. In the middle frame, Seth Jones thought he’d broken the scoreless tie but it was washed out due to Paul Gaustad’s incidental contact with Viktor Fasth moments before Jones took the shot.
Fast forward to the overtime session and, just 13 seconds into the extra period, Preds captain Shea Weber had no choice but to cover the puck in the crease and, by rule, Edmonton was awarded a penalty shot. Jordan Eberle was selected to take the shot but Rinne was equal to the task, getting a left pad on it.
“He is one of the better shooters stats wise in the NHL in penalty shots and shoot outs,” Rinne said. “You just try to stay patient with a guy like that because he has multiple moves. I thought he got a little bit too close to me and I was able to get my leg over there.”
“It was a really strong effort by him,” Laviolette said about his goaltender. “I think that happens sometimes where your goaltender is a guy who can make a difference in a game and get you some points.”
Moments later, Forsberg spun off of Taylor Hall and into the slot where he wristed a laser past Fasth to end the game and give Nashville their Central Division leading 15th win.
“I was pretty tired,” Forsberg said. “We were out there for a while and we had a couple of chances. I kind of saw Weber and [Roman] Josi lining up for the one timer but it was a hard pass to make so I just tried to spin away and try to shoot it at the net. I was lucky it went in.”
The Predators will close out their four-game home stand with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. If Nashville earns the “W,” they will finish with a 4-0-0 record during the homestand.
Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.
MY THREE STARS:
1. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
2. Viktor Fasth (EDM)
3. Filip Forsberg (NSH)
THE THREE STARS OF THE GAME:
1. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
2. Filip Forsberg (NSH)
3. Viktor Fasth (EDM)
PHOTO CREDIT: Sarah Fuqua // Flickr