GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 03: Goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators is congratulated by teammates after defeating the Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on November 3, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Predators defeated the Coyotes 3-0. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
So many possible ledes for this one. I'll let you pick your favorite:
- Pekka Rinne is a year older, a cool $49 million richer, and one shootout closer to a Vezina Trophy.
- Six zeroes on the contract, one zero on the scoreboard.
- The Pekka Rinne hattrick: a birthday, a shutout, and a ton of money.
- 35 saves from #35 gets you 35% off at the box office! (I expect a cut of the action for that last one, Preds' ticketing department).
In all seriousness, our beloved big Finn had a storybook ending to his 29th b-day, even though the Preds probably didn't need it. The team had a bevy of chances in the first period, but serious trouble finishing. Eight minutes into the second, however, Pekka's party pals finally broke through on a point shot from Jonathon Blum. Matt Halischuk added another at 16:04, as Craig Smith created a perfect 2-1 with his speed and passing.
That would prove to be all the lead the Predators needed, as Pekka bailed the skaters out of a defensively sloppy third period. David Legwand, having already secured his much sought after Empty Net Goal franchise record (and not wanting to get called offsides), passed to Patric Hornqvist, who iced the game for his fifth tally of the year.
No matter what happens in the next seven years, I think we'll remember this day for a while.
And as Mike Fisher said before the game, "It couldn't happen to a better guy."
Notes & errata after the jump.
First up, the video highlights:
- Legwand on the point of the second-unit power play was an interesting decision. The point on that unit has been a serious problem, as Klein has unsurprisingly proven a somewhat inadequate replacement for Cody Franson. Leggy doesn't have the shot of forwards you usually see on the power play point (think Kovalchuk). In fact, Legwand's shot kind of sucks. But he sees the ice well and can distribute the puck in the Preds' umbrella scheme. I'm open to the idea, but maybe try someone with a harder shot (Fisher?).
- The first two lines didn't factor in either of the even-strength goals, but they certainly had the chances. Fisher and Erat whiffed on several great chances in the first. Wilson was trying to set up Hornqvist for much of the game and Legwand got a few good looks. I guess part of the credit goes to Jason LaBarbera.
- Craig Smith is our best forward and should not be playing with Jerred Smithson, as hilarious as the "Smitty line" is. I was disappointed that 33-15-27 didn't carry over from practice.
- Holy cow Craig Smith is good. He did everything but hold Halischuk's stick on that goal. Credit goes to Halischuk for hustling to the net, though.
- Terry Crisp: worst rapper or best rapper?
- Kevin Klein took a shot off the ankle late in third, but luckily was alright enough to play on. I like to harp on Klein sometimes, but even I readily admit we'd be screwed without him.
- Speaking of blocked shots, I'm sick of hearing how many Jonathon Blum has. It didn't mean Zanon was good, and it certainly isn't an all-together positive sign for a puck-moving defenseman like Blum.
- Kleiner gets the biggest slice of birthday cake for sprawling out and stopping the Coyotes from scoring on a totally vacated net at 10:30 into the third. David Poile definitely got Pekka the best birthday present today, but Klein should feel no shame in second-best.