NHL.com: Preds win battle of Finnish goaltenders

Saturday, 04.17.2010 / 1:15 AM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


NHL.com: Preds win battle of Finnish goaltenders
It looked like Patrick Sharp had an opening -- but Rinne made the save of the night by poke-checking the puck harmlessly to the corner as Sharp went to shoot.
CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp couldn't believe his luck when he grabbed a turnover at the Nashville blue line in the first period of Friday's playoff opener between the Predators and Chicago Blackhawks.
 
It was the end of a shift, but Sharp took the puck and bolted for the net. Waiting there was Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. It looked like Sharp had an opening -- but Rinne made the save of the night by poke-checking the puck harmlessly to the corner as Sharp went to shoot.
 
It was by far the best of his 25 stops in Nashville's 4-1 win at the United Center, but Rinne was solid throughout in his first Stanley Cup Playoff game. In a battle of inexperienced Finnish goaltenders, Rinne was the one who skated off smelling like roses.
 
Sharp, for one, was impressed.
 
"I felt like I had an open net if I got by him," he said of his first-period chance. "I didn't know that he poke-checked me. I thought maybe (Ryan) Suter got me from behind. Then I saw the highlight and (Rinne) made a good play. Give him credit."
 
Sharp also blasted a one-timer off the post in the second period that would have beaten Rinne, who dove on that play and knocked the rebound out of the crease. Rinne, who's 6-foot-5 and takes up a lot of space, got plenty of help from his teammates and Nashville's 1-2-2- neutral zone trap scheme that clogs up the ice.
 
The Hawks' offense was frustrated all game. Chicago's only goal came 9:43 into the second period, when Patrick Kane fired the rebound of Sharp's shot into the net for a 1-0 lead that finally gave the home crowd something besides the National Anthem to scream about.
 
The way Antti Niemi played in the Hawks goal through the first two periods, it seemed like Kane's goal might be all the Hawks needed to win. Instead, the third period turned into a nightmare for Niemi -- who also got his first taste of the playoffs.
 
Niemi allowed a soft goal 91 seconds into the third period on a bouncer by ex-Hawk J.P. Dumont that tied the game 1-1. He was blameless on the game-winner, a rebound that Dumont shoveled into the net midway through the period after Niemi robbed David Legwand on a breakaway following a turnover.
 
Niemi stopped 22 shots, but his mental condition after that first goal was a big post-game topic. The puck skipped past him on what seemed like a harmless flop shot by Dumont from just inside the blue line.

Veteran center John Madden, for one, isn't worried.
 
"Stuff happens, pucks go into the net weird sometimes," Madden said. "I don't think it will (faze Niemi). Experience is one thing, but he'll refocus. He's a real competitor. He'll battle back and be fine."

Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61