The Nashville Predators pulled into 4th place in the West with their win over the Dallas Stars tonight, thanks in part to the New Jersey Devils' 2-1 victory over Detroit. In addition, the Preds have assured themselves at worst a 5th-place finish, meaning they don't have to worry about a 1st-round playoff matchup with the Pacific Division winner, and the associated travel burden that such a series brings.
Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 Dallas shots for his 5th shutout and 43rd win of the season, while Francis Bouillon (4th) and Patric Hornqvist (26th) scored the goals.
Follow after the jump for the video highlights and reaction...
Cue the video (might take 30-45 minutes post-game to work):
Your random observations:
- The first period was a bit of a snoozer, but one thing that really worried me was to see Michael Ryder skate in for a chance on Pekka Rinne, and get a wide open opportunity to stab at the puck afterward, even though David Legwand was right there with him. Not exactly intense defensive hockey being played by Leggy.
- I know how shocked all of you must have been to see SK74 pass up a strong shooting opportunity on a 3-on-1 to pass the puck and have it get deflected away instead.
- The ticky-tack calls we saw (both on Yip and Gill) were certainly frustrating, but you know what? That happens, even in the playoffs, and a team just has to fight through stuff like that. Kudos to the PK group for a job well done. The way you rebalance that sort of thing is to work hard and drive the net, just like Legwand did later to draw a call on Brendan Morrow.
- How about Francis Bouillon getting the Preds on the board? He now has three goals in his last six games.
- Down the stretch, the Predators did a pretty good job of getting the puck deep as often as they could and keep it there, and you have to wonder if that wore down the Stars a bit. That kind of extended pressure led to the Hornqvist goal.
- Alexander Radulov had a lot of good, and a little dash of bad tonight. He really started hot-dogging it on a 3rd period power play, ending up with a turnaround blind backhand pass into the neutral zone which went right to a Stars player who brought the play back the other way.
- The Preds can lock up 4th-place (and home-ice advantage in the 1st round) with an overtime/shootout loss or a win Saturday at Colorado. They have never finished ahead of Detroit in the standings, but now have a chance to make it happen for themselves.
- I'll yield the closing thought here to OTF reader Predator119, in the 3rd period game thread: "I would like to point out that we had a chance to eliminate a team and we shut them out"