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Post-Game Musings: vs. Minnesota

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
And Smashville can let out a big exhale of relief.

After a tight defensive battle, the Alexander Radulov’s shootout goal and Anders Lindback’s three-for-three showing on the other end --- including a reaction right pad save on a quick Mikko Koivu snapper --- the Preds emerged victorious, 2-1, to leapfrog Detroit into the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, two points ahead of No. 6 seed Chicago with four more nights of games remaining in the regular season. The Preds also reached the 100-point mark for the fourth time in franchise history.

The game was a very "Preds-type" of win, with Nashville getting solid shifts from all four forward lines, all three defensive pairings, and strong special teams play.

Now on to the musings...

The PK: Nashville's penalty kill unit deserves major kudos tonight, shutting down all four Minnesota power-play attempts, including 1:48 of four-on-three time to open the overtime period. Not only did they successfully negate Minnesota's PP unit, but Nashville's penalty kill prevented the Wild from using the power-play to generate momentum; the PK unit limited Minnesota to seven shots on goal during its four power-plays, including just one during the four-on-three. Paul Gaustad played a whopping 5:31 shorthanded ice time tonight, followed by Kevin Klein at 5:17, Hal Gill at 4:57, and Nick Spaling with 4:33.

Super Sub: Anders Lindback was near perfect tonight, turning aside 25-of-26 shots plus a perfect three-for-three showing in the shootout, making a tremendous save on Dany Heatley in a four-on-four situation with 7:06 left in regulation and a highlight reel shootout stop on Mikko Koivu in the second round of the shootout. After not seeing much action through long stretches of the season sitting behind Pekka Rinne, Lindback has now strung together two straight strong starts; Lindback stopped 30-of-31 shots two-and-a-half weeks ago for a 3-1 road win at Anaheim.

Quick Steal: Nick Spaling created two great scoring chances for the Preds in the second period on nearly identical forecheck plays, stripping the Minnesota defenseman clean both times. The first one resulted in a video review turned up no-goal for the Preds (off a scrum in the crease). The second one resulted in Gabriel Bourque’s seventh goal of the season, giving the Preds a 1-0 lead at the time. The Spaling, Bourque, Hornqvist line was Nashville's most effective line for all three periods tonight --- they recorded nine of Nashville's 24 shots on goal and the team's lone goal through regulation.

Head Coach Barry Trotz on Anders Lindback's performance…
"It was really huge for us. Anders didn’t get a lot of games this year. We [played] [Rinne] really hard right before the All‐Star break – really hard in terms of the 25 game stretch where he was going really well and we were going really well and we felt we could do that and get ourselves a little separation. He’s come up with a couple big wins for us. The last two starts he’s only given up two goals. He’s been really, really solid."

Captain Shea Weber on tonight's game…
"The win is the most important thing. Obviously, we’re somewhat in control of where we can finish. We can guarantee ourselves fifth. We’ve got to keep going."

Nick Spaling on the success of his line...
"They make it real easy. They’re two energy guys that I know that they’re going to be at the net or trying to win the puck back in the corner. It makes it easy for me knowing where they are the whole time."

1) NSH G Anders Lindback - 25 saves on 26 shots, plus 3-for-3 on the shootout
2) NSH F Alexander Radulov - shootout winner, 19:28 ice time; was the most creative and dangerous offensive player on the ice tonight; made several key "hustle plays"
3) MIN G Niklas Backstrom - 23 saves on 24 shots

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