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Rinne's Stupendous Save Just One Reason Preds Love Playing for Goaltender

Nashville Netminder's Game 3 Performance Perfect Example of Importance to Franchise

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Senior Communications & Content Coordinator

Mikael Granlund could have gone on and on and on if he wanted to.

Perhaps he would've chosen to describe what he saw from his view approximately 100 feet away, a blue and Gold clad pad seemingly emerge from out of nowhere to rob the Stars of what looked like a sure 3-2 lead.

Maybe he would've taken a more cerebral approach to explain how he's quickly come to know his fellow Finn as the backbone of this hockey club, moments like that stop of Stars Captain Jamie Benn solidifying that stance.

Instead, the Predators winger, his blond locks still damp from perspiration - moments after scoring what proved to be the game-winner on Monday night in Dallas, a 3-2 result in favor of the visitors - chose the simple approach.

"Yeah," Granlund started with a smirk, "he's a pretty good goalie."

After the Predators went up 2-0 in the second stanza of Game 3, Dallas battled back to tie the score at 11:45 of the third, and they could have gotten another just 28 seconds later.

Key words being "could have" because Rinne wasn't about to let in another.

Video: NSH@DAL, Gm3: Rinne pushes across to rob Benn

It was a save that left the 18,000-plus in attendance at American Airlines Center with their hands in the air, the roof ready to blow off the building in its first playoff game since 2016.

But Rinne just had to spoil the party.

Granlund elected not to dive into a monologue on what came to be a game-saving stop, and might be looked back upon as much more in due time, but a day later, plenty of Rinne's teammates were sure willing to do so.

"Just incredible," Preds centerman Nick Bonino said. "It's not surprising anymore to us. He does it consistently, but the bigger the game in the playoffs here, we really needed that one. It won us the game."

"That's a clutch save, and that's why he's one of the best goalies in the world, if not the best," Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "Just his compete level, he's never out of a save and that changed the game."

Video: Bonino, Ellis, Hamhuis and Josi set stage for Game 4

It was by far the best of Rinne's 40 saves in total on the night, and it allowed Granlund's first of the postseason to be enough to give the Predators a 2-1 series lead.

While Nashville would prefer their netminder to not have to make 40 saves on a particular night, it's going to happen from time to time, especially in the postseason. 

"You need to win a few of those games in the playoffs," Hamhuis said. "You'd like to be able to just dominate teams all throughout, but there's going to be some games where your team's maybe not on as well as it should be and you need a big performance from your goaltender. We certainly got that last night from Peks."

Preds Captain Roman Josi, who was at the side of the net had just about as close of a view of the save as anyone, says it's not just Rinne's play that does the talking. Although usually more of a quiet, reserved and extremely kind person, Rinne isn't afraid to speak his mind from time to time. When that happens, the group takes notice.

"He's a really competitive guy, and I think he wants to play the best game every game," Josi said of Rinne. "He demands a lot of himself and demands a lot of the team, which is great. He's our leader on the team, and whenever he says something, it means a lot to the team and we know we have to pick it up."

The Predators are hoping to do just that in Game 4 on Wednesday night in Dallas, a chance to take home a commanding 3-1 series lead. The thought of that is enticing, but Nashville knows they're likely to need much more out of themselves than what was produced on Monday.

Video: Coach sees areas Preds need to improve for Game 4

"We're not surprised, but I think we have to be better in front of him" Bonino said. "He shouldn't have to make those saves, especially in the third period of a 2-2 game. We're happy he made it, but we'll try to correct it."

And one more thing on the save - humble as always, Rinne called it "lucky," but his teammates know there's much more to it than that.

There's no one else they'd rather play for, try to win for. The next chance comes tomorrow.

"Pekka's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, but he's also got a fire burning inside of him," Hamhuis said. "He's a real competitor, and it is inspiring to play in front of him just knowing what he's doing back there. He's always competing, never out of a save and it just makes you want to play that much harder for him."

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