Rinne Saves Game 1…
The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena to take a 1-0 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Quarter Final Series last night. The victory can largely be attributed to the stellar play of Goalie Pekka Rinne, as he made 35 saves on 37 shots, some of which were unbelievable.
The Preds came out flying in the 1st period & broke through on a grinding goal from Preds C Paul Gaustad at 6:59 who worked the puck loose with the help of Brandon Yip & came out around the side of the net & threw the puck into the crease where it banked in for a 1-0 lead. The Preds continued to carry the play throughout the rest of the 1st period holding Detroit to just 5 shots on goal.
Penalties started to pile up with Commissioner Gary Betteman in the house & after 1 period of play the Red Wings had been penalized 4 times & the Preds twice (this theme will continue). The 2nd period started with a cross checking penalty on Preds D Roman Josi at 1:10. The Red Wings made the most of this Power Play opportunity when Henrik Zetterberg beat Rinne to tie the game at 1-1. Detroit was energized by the score & began to put lots of pressure on Rinne & the Preds Defense by controlling much of the rest of the 2nd period.
One exception to the Wings 2nd period dominance was when Matt Halischuk & Gabriel Bourque were able to get a rush going & gain some zone penetration. Halischuk fired a wrist shot from near the blue line & as Bourque was crashing the net, the puck deflected off the shaft of his stick & over the shoulder of Jimmy Howard to give the Preds a 2-1 lead with 6:31 left in the 2nd period. (Penalties in period: Det 2 Nash 3).
The 3rd period saw a continuation of Detroit carrying the play & limiting Nashville to few scoring chances. For a few minutes, the teams actually played 5 on 5 hockey with the exception of Josi/Hudler matching minors. Rinne was sensational making highlight reel save after save to keep Nashville with a narrow lead. At 11:35 of the 3rd period, the Preds checking line got to work again as Patric Hornqvist won a battle in the corner & made a perfect pass to Bourque in the slot for the finish & a 3-1 lead.
Detroit continued to push & the penalties continued to pile up for the Preds. With the Red Wings on the PP, Tomas Holmstrom was able to convert bringing Detroit to within 1 goal with 2:07 remaining in the game. Paul Gaustad would win 3 consecutive draws in the defensive zone to help lock down the 3-2 win for Nashville & a 1-0 series lead. (Penalties Det 1 Nash 5)
At the end of the game, Preds D Shea Weber really worked over Zetterberg in the corner with an elbow to the head & a shove into the glass (he received 2 mins for roughing). Many are speculating that this will be reviewed for supplemental discipline, but there is no word of a hearing as of this writing.
D Hal Gill missed game 1 Vs Detroit & is listed as day to day after being hit in the foot with a shot before the end of the regular season.
The bottom line…
-The Nashville Predators lead the Western Conference Quarter Final Best of 7 Series Vs Detroit 1-0.
-In the Western Conference Playoffs #8 LA leads #1 Vancouver 1-0, #2 St Louis & #7 San Jose begin today, #3 Phoenix & #6 Chicago begin today.
-The Predators host game 2 on Friday night with faceoff set for 6:30 CT.
-F Gabriel Bourque scored 2G in Game 1 (1st career playoff points) was +2 with 4 shots on goal & 1 Hit in 9:49 of ice time.
-F Paul Gaustad scored his 1st Goal in 39 career playoff games & won %60 of his face-offs, including 3 consecutive at end of game.
-D Ryan Suter led the team in time on ice with 28:34 (7:31 SH) & had 4 shots on goal, 3 take aways, & 3 blocked shots.
-F David Legwand led the team in hits with 4, Francis Bouillon 3, Andrei Kostitsyn 3.
-G Pekka Rinne was spectacular with 35 saves on 37 shots.