A GAME OF FIRSTS
There were several key moments and a few firsts for the series that helped the Predators regain home ice advantage with a 3-2 victory over Detroit in Game Three:
• The Predators won their first playoff game in Detroit. They were 0-6 in the Motor City in their two previous Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Red Wings.
• Shea Weber potted the Predators’ first power-play goal of the series 2:48 into the opening period. Nashville’s captain now has goals in back-to-back games.
• Kevin Klein notched his first-career multiple point playoff outing. Klein put the Predators ahead 2-0 early in the second period. He then added an assist on Sergei Kostitsyn’s game-winning goal.
• Each member of the Martin Erat-Mike Fisher-Sergei Kostitsyn line recorded their first points of the series. Erat tallied the only assist on Klein’s second period goal, while Fisher notched the primary assist on Kostitsyn’s game winner. Kostitsyn’s goal was his first in 17 games (combined playoff and regular season), dating back to March 8, when he tallied the game-winner against Colorado.
• Ryan Ellis made his NHL playoff debut in Game Three after making his NHL debut against the Red Wings on Dec. 26, 2011.
RELIABLE RINNE Pekka Rinne notched his 10th career postseason victory on Sunday afternoon, turning aside 41-of-43 shots. Detroit’s 43 shots were the second-highest shot total Rinne has seen in his postseason career. He faced 47 shots in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals against Vancouver last season (May 3, 2011). During the regular season, Rinne was 5-0-2 with a 1.66 goal-against average and .958 save percentage in the seven games in which he faced 40-or-more shots on goal, including a 4-3 win over the Red Wings in Nashville on Dec. 15. He improved to 2-0 this postseason when making 35 saves or more. During the regular season, Rinne was 14-0-2 when stopping at least 35 shots.
The Kempele, Finland native is the franchise’s all-time leader in nearly every postseason goaltending category including games played (21) and wins (10). He posted a franchise-record for goals-against average in a series (1.94) along with a .932 save percentage in the Western Conference Semifinals vs. Vancouver. Dating back to Game One of Nashville’s WCS series against the Canucks, Rinne has turned aside 267-of-287 shots against (.930).
WEATHERING THE STORM
Nashville weathered a late attack by Detroit on Sunday afternoon to hold on for the 3-2 victory. The Predators were outshot 43-22 in Game Three, but improved to 2-0 when being outshot this postseason. Nashville led the NHL during the regular season, going 32-18-4 when being outshot. Nashville’s minus-21 shot differential in Game Three was the highest in the playoffs since being outshot by 23 in Game Six of the 2008 WCQ vs. Detroit (April 20, 2008).
Detroit fired 19 shots on goal in the final frame on Sunday – surpassing their shot total for all of Game Two (17). The Wings were led by Henrik Zetterberg, who fired six shots in the third, giving him a total of nine for the game. Both those totals tied franchise-highs for most shots against in a period and in a game by a single player.
PLAYOFF QUICK HITS
• This is the third Western Conference Quarterfinals series between Nashville and Detroit. The Red Wings have won both of the previous series – 4-2 in 2004 and 4-2 in 2008. Nashville has played more playoff games (15) against Detroit than any other team in their seven trips to the postseason.
• Twelve of the 15 postseason games between the Predators and Red Wings have been decided by two goals or fewer. All three games in this year’s series have ended in 3-2 scores.
• Nashville is returning 14 players from last season’s playoff team – Erat, Fisher, Halischuk, Hornqvist, Klein, Sergei Kostitsyn, Legwand, Lindback, Rinne, Spaling, Suter, Tootoo, Weber and Wilson. Francis Bouillon was injured and did not play during the 2011 playoffs.
• Three players remain on Nashville’s roster from the 2004 WCQ series vs. Detroit – Erat, Legwand and Tootoo. Eight players who played against Detroit in the 2008 WCQ remain – Erat, Legwand, Radulov, Suter, Tootoo and Weber.
• Legwand is the Predators’ franchise leader in every postseason offensive category; he has posted 23 points (10g-13a) in 40 postseason games with Nashville. Martin Erat ranks second on the franchise’s all-time playoff points (20), goals (7) and games played (39) lists. He is tied with Legwand for the most playoff assists (13).
• Hal Gill – who has missed the first three games this series – is tied for sixth among active defensemen in postseason games played. He has skated in 105 career playoff games, making him the most experienced Predator in the postseason. Sixty-nine of those games have come in the past four seasons.
• Ryan Suter (32gp) and Shea Weber (32gp) have each taken the ice in every Predators’ playoff game over the team’s last four trips to the postseason – they are the only players to do so.