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Post-Game Musings: vs. Dallas

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
It was a playoff-style game tonight between the Preds and Dallas Stars; Dallas needing to win tonight to keep its playoff hopes alive and the Preds looking to win tonight to move closer to locking down home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The game was physical, defensive oriented, battles for every clearing attempt, for every scoring chance, for every rebound.

After playing to a scoreless first two periods, Nashville netted two goals in the third, the first with a scrum in front of the net and the second off a rebound into the slot. Pekka Rinne locked things down from there for his fifth shutout of the season, a 2-0 Preds win on Fan Appreciation Night at Bridgestone Arena.

Now on to the musings...

Hornqvist’s Leadership: Patric Hornqvist has been noticeably more vocal on and off the ice for the Preds this season. As the schedule has gone deeper, Hornqvist has continued to elevate the “details” in his game. Known more as a goal scorer in front of the net, Hornqvist has become one of the team’s most dogged forecheckers and has also developed more of an offensive presence with the puck on his stick. Tonight his lines were consistently the Preds most noticeable and they were rewarded for their work when Hornqvist worked behind the net to set up Francis Bouillon early in the third period for the game’s opening goal. Hornqvist then scored the insurance goal late in regulation off a rebound from Brandon Yip’s shot.

Rinne’s Milestone Win: With his 28-save shutout, Pekka Rinne picked up his 43rd win of the season, ensuring Rinne at least a tie of the league lead in Goaltender Wins this season, becoming the first Preds netminder to lead the league in victories. After missing Tuesday night's game due to illness, Rinne was perfect tonight, including an acrobatic sprawling right pad save in the middle of the third period to keep the Preds up 1-0.

Scoreboard Watching: With Nashville, Chicago, and Detroit all in action tonight, Preds fans were glancing at out of town scores frequently tonight. And the Preds got the biggest answer they needed when New Jersey knocked off Detroit in regulation to put Nashville back in the drivers seat for home ice advantage. The Preds win around a half hour after Red Wings loss moved Nashville into the No. 4 seed, one point ahead of Detroit. The win also means Nashville is guaranteed to be a participant in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series and need just one more point to secure home ice advantage in the series. The Preds will play Chicago if the Hawks win in regulation at Detroit on Saturday. The Preds will play Detroit if the Red Wings win in regulation or just force a extra time (overtime or shootout).

Head Coach Barry Trotz on tonight's game...
"Dallas Stars were really good tonight. From that stand point, I thought they had a lot of urgency in their game. We responded pretty good. I thought as the game got really urgent, especially in the third period, I thought we did a really good job there."

Forward Patric Hornqvist on being in control of the ability to secure home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs…
"The Saturday night's game is going to be huge for us. We were great at home and have been all year. I’m looking forward to Saturday night and I hope we can get a big win and start at home."

Goaltender Pekka Rinne on tonight's game...
"The guys did a great job. They had a good push there at the end but we did a really good job five‐on‐five and on the penalty kill. It was just a solid game. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary."

1) NSH F Patric Hornqvist - 1 goal, 1 assist; was at the center of most of Nashville's top scoring chances
2) NSH G Pekka Rinne - 28 saves, Shutout
3) DAL F Mike Ribiero - 3 shots on goal, 23:27 ice time; was creative and dangerous throughout the night for Dallas

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