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Predators bounce back, blank Flames 2-0

by Aaron Vickers /
CALGARY -- It's the only kind of rebound Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne likes seeing.
Rinne rebounded from being pulled after a four-goal first period in Vancouver by stopping all 33 shots he faced as the Nashville Predators blanked the Calgary Flames 2-0 at Scotiabank Saddledome on Saturday.

"I think just to bounce back from the last game in Vancouver," said Rinne, who was named the game's first star. "Personally, just a rough start, four goals in the first period. I think we all were mentally prepared and just ready to go."

Though he was impressed with his starter's performance in the game, Predators coach Barry Trotz said he has liked what he's seen out of his goaltender all season.

"(His) last performance he was fine. It wasn't anything about Pekka Rinne," Trotz offered. "When you need a win, Pekks is always the guy who can stand up and give you a real good performance and he did tonight."

The victory was Rinne's first ever against the Flames and ended Nashville's four-game losing streak. It was his 21st career shutout, tying him with Tomas Vokoun for the most in franchise history.

Despite being outshot 8-3 in the first period, the Predators went to the locker room in a scoreless tie, then grabbed the lead early in the second.

Jack Hillen took a pass from former Flames forward Brian McGrattan and fired a shot from the slot that bounced off the stick of Calgary's David Moss, up in the air and off Niklas Bergfors' chest and behind Kiprusoff at 2:34.

The Flames almost drew even just 3:47 later. Unchecked on the far post, Tim Jackman jammed at a loose puck in the crease and had pushed the puck beyond the goal line, but the play was reviewed and called no goal due to Tom Kostopoulos impeding Rinne from making the save.

"We were hoping it would be good," Jarome Iginla said. "Talking to Jacks and T.K., they thought they were just going for the puck, but that's part of it. On another night, that counts. Some nights it doesn't."

Rinne kept the Predators ahead with three saves that left Flames shooters frustrated. A redirected point shot off the stick of Mark Giordano was handled calmly by Rinne, who moments later then turned aside Iginla's slapper from the high slot and denied Matt Stajan's subsequent attempts at putting home the rebound.

Rinne was flawless again in the third, when the Flames outshot the Predators 14-3 on the way to a final margin of 33-14. His best came at 8:23 when was off a screened shot from the point that didn't make it through to the net, but Lee Stempniak picked up the loose puck and tried to tuck it in the far post, only to be denied by Rinne's left leg.
"It's just one of those things," Rinne said. "I saw the puck laying there and I knew somebody's going to get his stick (on it) pretty soon. I was able to get my pad there and was lucky to save that."

When the Flames were able to get the puck through Rinne, they couldn't beat Jonathan Blum. After Iginla managed to squeeze one at a sharp angle through the pads of the Predators' goalie, Blum dived to swat Olli Jokinen's attempt at the gaping net out of harm's way.

"That's one of those game-changing plays," Rinne said. "That puck went through me. I thought that for sure it's in the back of the net. Blum came to the rescue and made an outstanding play and saved my bottom right there. Blum made an outstanding play."

"I don't know if I would have had time to take it more towards the net," Jokinen said. "There was a lot to shoot at. This time it didn't go in."

Sergei Kostitsyn gave the Predators some breathing room on just their second shot of the period with 5:24 remaining. Craig Smith caught a Flames defenseman pinching at the Predators' blue line, broke into the zone on an odd-man rush and fed an open Kostitsyn, who tapped the puck behind Kiprusoff.
"Overall we had enough chances to win tonight," Jokinen said. "This game is always a tight game. We gave them two odd-manned rushes and they scored both times. A couple mistakes cost us the game."

Predators captain Shea Weber said he was pleased to escape with the victory, which moves the club back to .500.

"It's two points," Weber said. "We found a way. It wasn't pretty, we didn't generate a whole lot, but you know what? We won."

Though they've picked up just three points through the midway point of their six-game homestand, Iginla is drawing on the positives to turn Calgary's fortunes around.

"It feels like our game as a team, we've been in these close ones," the Flames' captain said. We're playing pretty good hockey and we're starting to get that consistent play, but we're not getting results. (If) we play like that consistently we'll win. That's what it feels like."
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