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Post-Game Musings: at Colorado

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators had their playoff destiny determined before puck drop on Saturday when Chicago beat Detroit in a shootout securing the Preds the No. 4 seed, giving tonight's game a similar feel to the last game of the Preseason. Players on the fringe of the regular line-up getting a chance to make and/or stay in the lineup. And for the regular players, the primary goal was to stay healthy.

Still, the Preds never trailed all night. David Legwand scored 3:39 into the game and after Colorado tied the game 4:30 later, but Craig Smith gave the Preds the lead for good with 7:50 remaining in the first period, extended the lead with under one second left in the opening frame and then led by multiple goals the rest of the way out. Nashville scored once more in the second period and added two more goals in the third period.

Now on to the musings…

Strong Finish For Anders: Anders Linback picked up his third consecutive win, stopping 34 shots tonight in Denver. Over his last three starts, Lindback has turned aside 89-of-92 shots for a .967 save percentage and 1.08 goals against average. Lindback had to leave the game early due to a collision in his crease 2:05 into the third period, but his performances the last three starts speak very well to Nashville’s goaltending depth heading into the playoffs.

Getting Some Rest: With the No. 4 seed locked up before puck drop, the Preds used tonight’s game to give some players a rest heading into the post-season. The entire Fisher line (Mike Fisher, Martin Erat, Sergei Kostitsyn) got the game off. As did physical defensemen Francis Bouillon and Hal Gill. That opened up ice time for defensemen Ryan Ellis and Matt Hillen as well as a few forwards on the fringe of the playoff lineup.

Stating His Case: Craig Smith made the most of his opportunity, primarily centering a line with Colin Wilson and Matt Halischuk. Smith scored Nashville’s go-ahead goal mid-way through the first period goal and assisted on Nashville’s second period goal with a pin-point cross ice pass to Roman Josi . Smith added a third point with another assist in the middle of third period. Smith also made a nice sliding block to prevent a potential goal early in the third period with Anders Lindback caught on the far post. Smith’s all-around play improved his chances to break the lineup for the playoffs. On a similar note, Halischuk, Smith’s linemate tonight, was solid with a goal and an assist to strengthen his bid to retain a spot in the lineup.

1) NSH G Anders Lindback – 34 saves
2) NSH F Craig Smith – 1 goal, 2 assists, +3 plus/minus
3) NSH F Matt Halischuk – 1 goal, 1 assist, +2 plus/minus

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