Predators blank the Wings

Nashville Predators NHLHS correspondent Tyler Davis recaps the division rivalry between the Predators and the Red Wings.

It is obvious for any person attending a Predators/Red Wings game in Nashville that there is a lot of emotion for the rivalry, but pride wasn’t the only momentum for this game.

With a 4 game losing streak on the line and a sold out crowd in attendance, the Nashville Predators (28-18-7) welcomed rival Detroit Red Wings (31-15-6) to town for the first time this season.  The Predators entered the contest sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference, dropping from fourth after a pair of wins from Anaheim and San Jose earlier in the afternoon.  Detroit came to town looking to rebound from a 3-0 by Columbus the previous night.

The Predators knew Detroit would be angry after shutout loss the night before and would have to play tough in order to win, but Predators netminder Pekka Rinne (18-13-5) was up to the challenge.  He stopped all 35 shots he faced last night, recording his fourth shoutout of the season.  After the shutout, Rinne saw his numbers improve to 2.04 Goals Against Average, and a Save Percentage of .931, both of which are good enough for second in the NHL.  Because of his performance in goal, Rinne was also awarded with the NHL Second Star of the Day.

Another big aspect for the Predators last night was their special teams.  The penalty kill went a perfect 5 for 5 on the night and improved to third in the NHL at 85.6% on the season.  One big momentum swing for the special teams was early in the second period when the Predators received 2 penalties on the same play, giving Detroit 2 minutes of a 5 on 3 power play.  They were able to kill the penalty off with several clears from the zone and never really allowing Detroit to set up offensively on the power play.

Offensively, the Predators seemed to fire on all cylinders, scoring a power play goal by Shea Weber, and a short handed and even strength goal both by Sergei Kostitsyn.  Ryan Suter also finished the night with 2 assists tying team captain Shea Weber for the team lead in assists with 23.  With Kostitsyn’s 2 goals on the night, he improved to a career best 30 points (14 goals/16 assists) and moved into second place in scoring for the Predators.

Thanks to the shutout against Detroit, the Predators, for the time being, have moved back into fourth place, with 63 points, in a Western Division battle that sees standings change almost daily.  Nashville also climbs closer to Detroit’s division leading 68 points.  Nashville leads the season series with Detroit 2-1, and will face the conference rivals 3 more times this season, 2 of those being at home for the Predators.

The Predators now turn their attention to building on this momentum as Edmonton (15-29-8) visits Nashville on Monday night.

Tyler Davis

NHLHS Nashville Predators Correspondent

Twitter: @Trebek14