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Mully's Musings: vs. Minnesota

Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 11:56 PM / Features
By Bryan Mullen
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Mully\'s Musings: vs. Minnesota
In, say, two months, the Nashville Predators’ win on Wednesday won’t jump out. But in the moment, with everything that is happening with the team, this one ranks as one of the club’s best victories of the season.

The Preds grinded out a 2-1 shootout victory against Minnesota in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. The Wild, which was one of the NHL’s hottest teams earlier this season, has now lost five consecutive games while Nashville showed its toughness to bounce back from a 4-1 defeat against Detroit on Monday.

Nashville has had some serious issues to deal with recently. Captain Shea Weber sat out his second consecutive game with a concussion, fellow veteran defenseman Kevin Klein is on IR, and another move was made on offense to fill a void left by Blake Geoffrion, who has struggled of late.

The victory was symbolic of the Preds’ style. It was a solid, all-around effort and their goaltender once again showed why he’s one of the best – if not the best – goalies in the world. Let’s muse…


Rinne on top of his game: It was clear from the start that Pekka Rinne was in top form. He stopped all 22 shots from the Wild in the first two periods and showed why he is considered to have the best glove hand in the game. The only goal he allowed came on a wraparound play by Dany Heatley. But Rinne had made multiple stops in the seconds prior to the goal, and after the game, Preds coach Barry Trotz said it wasn’t Rinne’s fault that the Wild tied it. Barely a minute into overtime, Rinne made a highlight-reel save on Marek Zidlicky to keep the clock moving. Minnesota also couldn’t get a puck past him in the shootout, and he moved to 2-1 in shootouts this season. Rinne stopped 34 of 35 shots and is now 5-0-0 all-time against the Wild at Bridgestone Arena. He nearly picked up his fourth shutout against Minnesota in Nashville.

Bourque steps in, steps up: The Preds recalled forward Gabriel Bourque from Milwaukee on Tuesday night, and it’s clear why he was the player chosen. Playing in his first NHL game, Bourque showed the poise of an NHL regular and received rave reviews from his coaches and teammates. He had only 8:05 of ice time, and Trotz said afterward that it was “bad coaching” for not playing Bourque more minutes. With three minutes to go in the second, Bourque showed his speed and skill when he streaked down the ice with the puck, passed it to himself off the boards to beat Marco Scandella, and centered it to Matt Halischuk for a nice scoring chance. Trotz said if Bourque continues to play this way night in and night out, he could be in Nashville for quite some time.

Tootoo still making plays: The reemergence of Jordin Tootoo gets more impressive with each game. Although he took a questionable penalty late in regulation, Tootoo made up for it with his overall performance. He had Nashville’s only goal in regulation when he tipped home a shot by Jonathon Blum (who had a stellar game himself). Tootoo now has 16 points in his last 16 games and is on pace to set career highs in points, goals and assists. His career high in points (18) has been achieved twice, and he will almost certainly break that soon. He also had a career high in goals (11) in 2007-08 and already has six in 35 games this season.


THREE QUOTES
G Pekka Rinne: “We’ve been doing a pretty good job at home in shootouts. Letting them go first and us second, it’s been working.”

F Jordin Tootoo: “We talked about getting pucks to the net all night. We knew it was going to be a greasy goal that would win it. We got a good bounce there. Blum shot the puck, it ricocheted off my stick, and I guess we got a good bounce.”

Barry Trotz: “You had two desperate teams playing. They are a team we want to catch in the standings. They’ve gone through some hard times and we knew they were desperate. It was what we expected. It was close. It always is.”


THREE STARS
G Pekka Rinne, Nashville: Stopped 34 of 35 shots, perfect in shootout
F Jordin Tootoo, Nashville: 1 goal, +1 rating, 3 hits
G Josh Harding, Minnesota: Stopped 24 of 25 shots


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