The Nashville Predators rode the goaltending of Pekka Rinne to his seventh shutout of the season, but couldn't pull out the victory as Detroit won an 11-round shootout at Bridgestone Arena in front of a sellout crowd of 17,113. The point earned leaves Nashville with 92, still good for 5th in the Western Conference pending a late game between Los Angeles and Dallas.
For Rinne, this marks not only his fourth shutout in his last nine starts, but it's also the second time this season he's not allowed a goal during regulation and overtime, only to lose the game in a lengthy shootout. Back on February 2nd, he took Ilya Bryzgalov and the Phoenix Coyotes to a 10-round shootout, dropping a 1-0 decision.
Follow after the jump for the recap and advanced-even strength stats. As always, check the video widget on the right sidebar for highlights as soon as they become available...
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This game was a tight affair throughout - the Predators got the best chances early on as the Red Wings took three penalties in the first period, but the Nashville power play just couldn't connect. The Preds got a real scare when, late in the period, Martin Erat got tangled up with Tomas Holstrom along the boards and Holmstrom fell on Erat's right leg, twisting his knee and ankle in the process. Erat went immediately to the dressing room, but was able to return for the start of the second period.
In the second, Detroit took over the flow of the game, outshooting the Preds 15-7 and getting two power plays of their own. But the Nashville penalty kill, a sore spot all season, stepped up and took the initiative away from a very dangerous Red Wings PP unit.
The third period and overtime were perhaps more even, and while the play kept moving back and forth at a steady pace, the quality of the scoring chances was generally pretty poor. Besides the fact that ice quality made puck handling and passing a dicey affair, both teams played solid defensively, and the Nashville defensemen in particular were outstanding. On separate occasions, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein handled rushes by Todd Bertuzzi effectively, and Francis Bouillon used his strength to rub out Henrik Zetterberg behind the net in overtime.
So it was on to the shootout, where Rinne got off to a good start by stopping Pavel Datsyuk, who can really make goaltenders look foolish. Cal O'Reilly missed first for Nashville, then Rinne stopped Jason Williams in Round 2. Martin Erat was stoned by Howard after making a few moves on the way in, keeping things scoreless into Round 3. Zetterberg deked to his forehand but Rinne covered the post, giving David Legwand a chance to win it.
But no... Howard stuffed his 5-hole attempt and it was on to Round 4. Johan Franzen shot high & wide, and Marcel Goc was stoned as well after a deke move. In Round 5, Bertuzzi came in slowly and deked before scoring on a high backhander. That put the game on Sully's stick - he came in at speed and deked to his backhand, drawing Howard well out to the side and leaving plenty of room to easily tuck the puck home and tie things back up.
Rinne stuffed Filppula in Round 6, and Cody Franson shot high into Howard's glove. That took it to Round 7, where Drew Miller beat Rinne, only to have the puck bounce off the post - no goal. Patric Hornqvist had a chance to win it, but he shot high.
In Round 8, Holmstrom tried to stuff a forehand shot that Rinne stopped. J.P. Dumont opted for a wrister, but Howard held his ground and made the save. In Round 9, Patrick Eaves stumbled to the ice and never even got his shot on net. On Twitter, ESPN's Scott Burnside called it the "worst shootout attempt of all time". It was certainly in the running!
Dustin Boyd, perhaps unable to concentrate after Eaves' pratfall, puckhandled in close only to lose it when Howard poke-checked him. That took us to Round 10...
Kris Draper fired a wrister wide to the short side, giving Colin Wilson his first crack at a shootout. He skated in quickly and fired a shot, but Howard stoned him, leading to Round 11. Niklas Kronwall put a backhander past Rinne for the score, and Francis Bouillon couldn't answer for Nashville, his 5-hole attempt stopped easily.
All in all, I'm sure it was frustrating for the Preds to lose, but they played a decent game. Without their top center, they didn't generate much in terms of dangerous scoring chances, but they kept pace with a Red Wings team that is playing very well right now.
As far as the advanced stats go, I still keep shaking my head at J.P. Dumont's lack of quality ice time. He made some of the better offensive plays for the Preds tonight, and especially given Jason Arnott's absence from the lineup, his play-making skills are sorely needed.
|Even Strength||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|
|J P Dumont||R||9:22||1||1||1||0||3||6||-3||5||10||-5|