Pekka Rinne earns 4th shutout as Nashville gets critical 1-0 win at Anaheim

Pekka Rinne answered the hopes of Nashville Predators fans by earning his 4th shutout of the season tonight, stopping 31 Anaheim shots as the Preds took a 1-0 win on the road. The win pushed Nashville two points ahead of Calgary in 7th place heading into the weekend.

Follow after the jump for reaction, and advanced even-strength statistics. Video highlights are available via the widget in the sidebar to your right...

It's a cruel truth of hockey that over the course of an 82-game season a team will play some great games that they lose, and some poor games that they end up winning. Tonight the Predators certainly didn't play as well as they did last night in San Jose, for any number of reasons (physical and mental fatigue primarily). I'm sure Barry Trotz won't fail to take advantage of this opportunity to log the win, while at the same time point out to his players the mistakes they need to correct before playing at Los Angeles Sunday afternoon.

Rinne was generally sound in the Nashville net, although he did take some big risks with the puck at times (a backhanded pass up-ice as a forechecker came at him, dishing off a puck in his glove to the defense rather than freezing it, etc.), but he did get the job done to earn his first shutout since February 2nd against Phoenix, when the Coyotes' Ilya Bryzgalov matched his feat and did him one better by winning a shootout.

Special teams was a bright spot once again as the lone goal came in the first period from Shea Weber during a 5-on-3 advantage; his slap shot from 42 feet beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller cleanly, and that was all the scoring for the night. The penalty killers took care of both Anaheim chances, and in an odd twist, the teams played over seven minutes of four-on-four action due to coincidental and overlapping penalties on various occasions.

While the Predators were able to hold on during the third period as the Ducks get desperate, it seemed too often that Nashville was content to trade chances rather than lock things down and run out the clock. Neutral zone turnovers and forecheckers getting caught deep allowed Anaheim to build up speed across the line more than once in the final twenty minutes, and Rinne was kept busy until the very end.

All in all, however, it was a satisfying road win, and the Preds will gladly take it. So far they are 2-1 on this critical road trip, and have an opportunity to really make some noise against the Kings on Sunday. Tomorrow, the Detroit Red Wings (in 9th, 3 points back) host Buffalo, while Calgary doesn't play until Sunday evening at Vancouver.

After spending this week on the road, the Predators return home for three games next week, Tuesday vs. the Philadelphia Flyers, Thursday vs. the Minnesota Wild, and Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. If you're looking for cheap Nashville Predators tickets, your search is complete.

Once again, Colin Wilson sticks out like a green thumb with his positive performance tonight. His size and strength help him fit in very well on the wing where he can win his fair share of battles along the boards, and he very nearly scored in the third period off a crossing pass from David Legwand.

Jordin Tootoo also had a fine game; he helped drive the play towards the Anaheim net constantly, and almost scored as well. Give full marks to Hiller for a strong game on his end.

Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 David Legwand C 16:29 2 0 1 0 8 9 -1 11 15 -4
 Joel Ward R 15:58 3 0 0 0 5 12 -7 7 18 -11
 Steve Sullivan L 15:29 1 0 0 0 4 10 -6 6 12 -6
 Jerred Smithson R 15:23 0 0 0 0 6 9 -3 8 14 -6
 Jason Arnott C 14:42 3 0 2 0 9 6 3 14 9 5
 Martin Erat R 14:37 1 1 1 0 8 6 2 13 9 4
 Patric Hornqvist R 13:30 3 0 0 1 4 10 -6 5 11 -6
 Dustin Boyd C 12:36 2 1 0 0 6 8 -2 8 10 -2
 Marcel Goc C 11:21 2 0 1 0 3 7 -4 6 14 -8
 Colin Wilson C 11:00 0 1 1 0 8 3 5 12 6 6
 Jordin Tootoo R 9:49 3 0 1 0 7 0 7 10 6 4
 J P Dumont R 9:39 0 0 0 0 7 4 3 12 11 1
 Francis Bouillon D 21:48 0 0 0 0 9 11 -2 11 15 -4
 Kevin Klein D 20:54 1 1 0 2 8 10 -2 11 17 -6
 Ryan Suter D 20:35 2 0 0 1 10 11 -1 14 19 -5
 Shea Weber D 19:09 1 0 0 2 10 8 2 14 15 -1
 Dan Hamhuis D 18:31 1 0 0 1 8 14 -6 15 21 -6
 Cody Franson D 11:11 1 1 1 0 7 7 0 13 10 3
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