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Post-Game Musings: at Detroit

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
The Preds played a near-perfect road game and Pekka Rinne was outstanding as Nashville picked up an important 4-1 win at Detroit on Friday night to leapfrog the Wings for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference playoff picture. With four games remaining in the regular season the Preds now have the inside track for home ice in the first round of the playoffs.

Alexander Radulov netted a goal and an assist for his first multi-point game of the season. His second point, a goal early in the third period, was Radulov's 100th career NHL point.

The win was also the 500th in Preds franchise history. Preds Head Coach Barry Trotz joins Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, former Chicago head coach Billy Reay and Hockey Hall of Famers Al Arbour (NY Islanders) and Toe Blake (Montreal Canadiens) as the only five coaches to win 500 games with one team (click here to read more on Trotz's 500 wins)

The Preds return home tomorrow night to face the Chicago Blackhawks, holding a one point lead on Detroit for the No. 4 seed and a three point lead over No. 6 seed Chicago. The win secured the Preds no worse than the No. 6 seed in the conference playoffs and have a magic number of just five points to secure at least the No. 5 seed.

Now on to the musings...

Game Changing Save: Pekka Rinne’s play on Detroit’s power-play late in the second period changed the game in Nashville’s favor. The Preds led 1-0, but the Red Wings were controlling the play during the period. Further the Wings were on the second on back-to-back power-play opportunities. Rinne made a handful of quality saves, highlighted by a sequence where he stopped Nicklas Lidstrom’s shot from the point and then made a stunning glove save to rob Henrik Zetterberg. The Preds completed the penalty kill and scored on the first shift back at five-on-five to claim a 2-0 lead and Nashville led by multiple goals the remainder of the game.  ( Watch play here)

The Josi Effect: Roman Josi made his return to the lineup tonight and had an instant impact. He was on the ice for Nashville’s first three goals scored, making key plays on hold-ins during the sequences leading to both of the team’s second period goals. He and Francis Bouillon were highly instrumental in Nashville’s second goal – the eventual game-winner – making several good plays high in the offensive zone to prevent Detroit clearing attempts. The Preds are now 31-14-3 with Josi in the lineup, compared to 14-11-15 without him.

Radulov Line Stars Again: Once again Alex Radulov’s line was the most impactful for the Preds tonight with Radulov playing a prominent role in two of Nashville’s goals. With his two-point outing, Radulov reached the 100 point mark for his NHL career -- in just his 150th career game. Skating with David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist through the first two periods, the trio was at the center of the majority of Nashville’s offensive forays, especially during the first period. Radulov picked up an assist on Nashville’s second goal, taking a shift with Nick Spaling and Gabriel Bourque – immediately after the Preds killed off back-to-back Red Wings power-play opportunities. And then in the third period, he scored a goal, paired up with Legwand and Andrei Kostitsyn.

1) NSH G Pekka Rinne – 31 saves, 1 assist; made his best saves at key moments of the game with the score 0-0 and 1-0 Nashville.
2) NSH F Alexander Radulov – 1 goal, 1 assist; at the center of Nashville’s best scoring chances while going head-to-head against Nicklas Lidstrom
3) NSH D Roman Josi - +3 plus/minus, team-high 4 shots on goal
(honorable mention to Andrei Kostitsyn with 1 assist; made an impact tonight, earning a promotion to the Legwand/Radulov line -- can't go through the full Musings without recognizing AK's play tonight)

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