After a Game 3 loss that felt like a punch right to the gut, the Nashville Predators needed to respond to keep the Winnipeg Jets from running away with the rest of the series. They didn’t have to be told twice.
After losing his composure during Game 3, Pekka Rinne came through like he always does. He strapped the team to his back and went to work. Stopping 32 of the 33 shots he faced, Rinne looked dialed-in. Even with the Jets trying to bully him in his own crease, he didn’t take the bait, Rinne was lights out.
Had it not been for a poorly timed penalty in the final minutes of the game, Rinne very well may have had the shut-out. I’d say this is still a good change of pace for a team that had everyone hovering over the panic button Tuesday night.
Welcome Back, Pekka Rinne
I’m 100% biased when it comes to Rinne. My faith in him, no matter how blind it may be at times, hasn’t wavered in the past few seasons. While many were ranting and raving about starting Juuse Saros Thursday night, I turned my phone off and waited for what I knew would happen.
Rinne would get the start.
Rinne would stand on his head.
Rinne would win this game.
What I didn’t expect was this...
Knob. Save. Rinne.
Bryan Little: “It felt like we were skating into a wall tonight.” #nhljets— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) May 4, 2018
That wall has a name, Little, and it’s Pekka Rinne.
Here’s a look at the unblocked shot locations from HockeyViz:
That’s some incredible work from Rinne, stopping some excellent shooters right in front.
He may have taken a bad penalty Thursday night, but I’m willing to overlook that as Subban had the game winning goal for Nashville.
If Subban comes into your arena and your fans mercilessly boo him every time he touches the puck, don’t be surprised when he rips a slap shot past your goaltender. Nashville’s defense may be the best in the league, but they’ve struggled in the post-season. It sends a huge message to his team when Subban scores a goal like that.
Discipline and Composure
Nashville being notorious for taking bad penalties at the most inopportune times was their undoing Tuesday night.
Whatever finally clicked for the Predators that made them realize they have to stay disciplined came at just the right time. No matter how much the Jets pushed, the Preds didn’t take the bait. Winnipeg’s really good at getting under their opponents’ skin, and when they finally realized Nashville wasn’t going to swap penalties with them all night, the momentum of the game had already swung in Nashville’s favor.
That’s not to say Winnipeg didn’t have their chances, but with Rinne standing on his head, and the rest of the team keeping their composure, the Jets couldn’t bury their chances.
Despite having the Jets’ lone goal, Patrik Laine looked frustrated and lost on the ice at times. The defense did a really good job of getting in his way, and not letting him have too many chances. His goal came off a 6-on-4 power play in the last minute of the game. That was his 20th shot of the series, but only his first goal. Holding a 44 goal scorer—and career 18% shooter—to 1-for-20 on shooting is incredible.
Regardless, staying out of the box helped Nashville’s game tremendously.
So one more time, all the way to Manitoba before they bring the series back to Nashville Saturday...
STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX