Nashville Predators 3, New York Rangers 2: Rinne Finds Form, Preds Find Win

Afternoon hockey? Playoff atmosphere? Josi bobble-head? Preds win? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

On a pleasant February afternoon, the Nashville Predators beat the New York Rangers 3-2 in impressively gritty fashion. Going down a goal early and losing Colin Wilson to injury, the Preds had virtually nothing going well in the 2nd period... and then the Best Defensive Pairing In The World put the team on their back to give the Preds the lead. Then in the 3rd period, the Best Free Agent Signing In The World helped the team cement the win, getting some help from the Best Goalie In The World. It might not have been the Best Game In The World, but there should be no doubt that the Preds are the Best Team In The World.

If you are unable to decipher my blatant hyperbole here, that's Roman Josi, Shea Weber and Mike Ribeiro scoring for the Predators, while Pekka Rinne stopped 30 of 32 shots. Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash (who got his 33rd) scored for the Rangers, who were also playing a bit shorthanded.

Random Observations

  • With no Derek Stepan and no Henrik Lundqvist, you have to think the Predators need at least a point in this one... especially with how Thursday's game turned out.
  • The Rangers are apparently going with a two-man team of Marc Staal and Kevin Klein in goal today with Lundqvist out. They each just made incredible, full stretch pad saves on shots by Ribeiro and Forsberg, so the move has paid off so far. Wonder if more teams will try this strategy? (Ok, so I'm being told that someone named Cam Talbot is actually in goal. Not sure what I just saw...)
  • Speaking of Klein, he just got a video tribute. So (if I'm counting this right) that's three former Preds players/coaches that have received tributes this year (Legwand, Trotz, Klein) and two that have not (Erat, Hornqvist). Or maybe three.
  • Preds came out very strong in the 1st. They look fast and determined. Rangers led in shots 10-8, but Preds led in scoring chances 7-2. Forsberg had another sensational non-goal (a couple actually) and he would have scored if not for that pesky pipe behind Talbot.
  • 2nd Period? Not so good so far. Starting on the penalty-kill, the Preds were on their heels for the better part of 10 minutes. Oh and add to that the news that Colin Wilson is will not return due to an upper body injury.
  • And now the Rangers take a 1-0 lead. With Weber in the box, Rick Nash backhands a rebound past Rinne on the power-play. More bad happenings in the 2nd period.
  • Right now the only player I trust with the puck is Forsberg. When he's got the puck, the team responds and good things happen. When anyone else has the puck, everything falls apart.
  • Except for, of course, ROMAN JOSI! With thousands of bobble heads in attendance, Josi cranks one past Talbot to tie the game! What an awesome goal.
  • DITTO. Shea Weber. 41 seconds after Josi's blast, Weber comes off the bench and sends one screaming by Talbot to give the Preds the lead 2-1. Just hand it to the best defensive pairing in the league and GET OUT OF THE WAY.
  • What a sequence that was. In a period where nothing went right, it took two defensemen 41 seconds to turn everything around. 20 more minutes to go.
  • Crud. The Rangers quickly tie it back up in the 3rd. Ryan McDonagh skated down the left point and sent one on net that took a deflection on its way in. 2-2.
  • Teams trading hay-makers now. Nash got past the defense but was denied by Rinne, then Forsberg had a wide open shot in front of Talbot, but Talbot robbed him. Ribeiro also had a great chance, but couldn't get much on the shot. Both goalies stopping some high percentage shots.
  • BUT NOT THIS ONE! Mike Ribeiro takes the drop pass from Seth Jones and slaps it by Talbot to give the Preds a 3-2 lead! His 700th career point, and it's a huge one. Now all the Preds have to do is hold the lead for 7 more minutes...
  • While the Rangers have had some chances here in the final minutes, the Preds skaters are making sure that Rinne isn't forced to make a huge save. Great shot blocking and hits on display.
  • The Predators hang on! The 3-2 win makes them 11-0-1 in games following a regulation loss.

OTF's Super Duper Stars of the Game

  • Mike Ribeiro: GWG for his 700th career point!
  • Pekka Rinne: Welcome back, big guy! 30 saves for Pekka. He certainly looked better than Thursday, no?
  • Roman Josi: 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 bobble-head/

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