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Pekka Rinne records first playoff shutout as Predators get back in series

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer

Western Conference Semifinal (Coyotes lead series 2-1)

Predators 2, Coyotes 0 (Recap, Box Score)

No1Star

There are no shortage of options here for Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped all 32 shots he faced to record his first career playoff shutout, bouncing back from a rough outing in Game 2.

David Legwand opened the scoring in the first period with what proved to be the game-winning goal, finished with a team-high four shots on goal and won 60 percent of his faceoffs. Paul Gaustad did the type of heaving lifting the Predators had in mind when they gave up a first-round draft pick for him at the trade deadline by winning 15 of his 22 faceoffs, including 11 of the 15 he took in the defensive zone.

All of those guys had a big hand in the win, but we'll go with Rinne since he kept Phoenix completely off the board despite facing 32 shots and a number of quality scoring chances.

TurningPoint

I'm sure there are going to be a lot of narratives about how benching Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn sent some sort of a message to the remaining players and rallied the troops. The reality is Nashville just simply played a better game and had a few more breaks go their way than they did in Games 1 and 2.

One of those breaks came early in the first period when Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, usually one of the most reliable puckhandling goalies in the league, turned the puck over away from the net (shown in the video posted above) and allowed Legwand to have a wide open net to aim for, resulting in the game-winning goal.


ItWas...

Simply put, it was a game that Nashville absolutely, positively needed to win. There would probably no coming back from a 3-0 series deficit and when you add in the fact they went into the game without two of their best players and, well, it wasn't going to be an easy mountain to climb.

They came out flying, took an early lead, and then as they did for much of the season, relied on the stellar play of Rinne to help lead them to a win. And suddenly, we're one game away from having a brand new series.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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