Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pekka Rinne stops 40 shots, backstops Preds to 4-1 win over Ducks

Pekka Rinne stopped 40 of 41 Anaheim shots, and the Preds got the California road trip started on the right foot with a 4-1 win.

1st Period

  • Weird goal by Jerred Smithson at 5:10. Smithson swung in front of the net from the left corner and start jamming away. Right as the whistle went, Smithson raised his hand as if in celebration of a goal. Evidently, that was enough to convince the refs to consult Toronto, and Toronto agreed with Smithson, as replay showed the puck just sliding under Jonas Hiller's right leg. We'll take that, thank you very much.
  • The rest of the period was all Anaheim. The Ducks outshot Nashville 14-2 the rest of the period. Luckily for the Preds, Pekka was up to the task, turning away every single shot.
  • Chris Mueller was hitting everything and everything in sight that wasn't wearing white. I love the energy he's shown in the two games he's played. Hopefully he'll take advantage of the playing time he'll get with Cal out of the lineup for a substantial amount of time.

2nd Period

  • For some reason, I paid a lot of attention to the tandem of Hornqvist-Kostitsyn. Maybe I'm late catching on to this, but those two have seemingly meshed together really well. That was evident as Kostitsyn passed up a shot at the top of the right circle, and instead threw the puck at Hornqvist, who was battling in front of Hiller. The seeing-eye puck found Hornqvist's skate and slid by Hiller, and Nashville added to their lead at 3:56.
  • A side note about Kostitsyn: David Poile made a genius move in acquiring SK, and hopefully he did what he did to Goc last year by extending his contract. Something tells me that if SK already knows his stay in Nashville will continue past this year, his play will elevate even further than it already has.
  • Marek Svatos will score at some point during this three game swing in California. The guy has created multiple scoring chances for himself; one will eventually find it's way into the back of the net.
  • Better period from the Preds in the shot department. They ended up getting outshot 13-11, but, compared to the first period, they did a much better job of getting shots on net.

3rd Period

  • As they have shown many times throughout the season, the Preds usually cannot close out a game. That was the case tonight, as Saku Koivu scored at 11:46, his fourth goal against the Preds out of the eleven he's scored this season.
  • Here's a shocker: Kevin Klein was on the ice for Koivu's goal. I find myself screaming at Klein at least once a game, and it makes me wonder: could Jonathan Blum, Teemu Laakso, or Brett Palin do as good a job, or perhaps be better than Klein? As experienced as Klein is, he sure doesn't play like it.
  • For the second game in less than a week, the Preds scored two empty-net goals to seal the win, with Kostitsyn contributing one ENG in both games. Shea Weber scored with under a second to go in regulation off a clearing attempt that somehow found it's way into the Anaheim net. Funny way to pad the stats.

Other Thoughts

  • Same old story with the special teams units: the power play is terrible, and the penalty kill is outstanding. Hopefully the power play gets turned around at some point, but the Preds haven't really had a deadly power play since the Kariya years.
  • Pekka was stellar again tonight. With all of the injuries to the Preds offensive front, Pekka needed to step his game, and step up he has. 
Next up, the Preds play the second half of their back-to-back set as they travel to the Staples Center to play the Kings. Will Barry Trotz play the hot hand that is Pekka Rinne, or will he give Anders Lindback a chance at redemption against the team that ruined his last start?

Feel free to comment or criticize anything I've said. I haven't really gotten any feedback from anyone, so I have no idea if there's anything I need to correct or if I'm doing just fine. Many thanks in advance...

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