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Rinne is big problem for Wings again

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne stopped 40 shots in Game 4 on Tuesday. Rinne is 17-0-2 in the regular-season and playoffs when he has stopped at least 35 shots. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – It wasn’t that the Red Wings had bad luck Tuesday. They had no luck at all in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinals series at Joe Louis Arena.

For the second straight game the Wings doubled Nashville’s shot output but came out on the losing end of 3-1 score that now finds them in a 3-1 series hole heading back to the Music City and facing an elimination game Friday.

The Wings registered 41 shots Tuesday, but only Jiri Hudler found the back of the net when he tipped Niklas Kronwall’s shot from the point during a third-period power play.

“We've had our good opportunities we just have to capitalize on those,” Wings forward Drew Miller said. “If we score on those goals and get those good chances next game it's going to be big for us.”

While Kronwall, Hudler and Valtteri Filppula all had quality scoring chances early on, Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was up to the challenge – again – and made several big saves, while getting help on occasion from teammates and the goal post.

“Their goalie is making saves,” Miller said. “We just have to find a way to score. We're out there working hard and it shows that we want to win. We just have to keep putting shots on net and eventually they're going to go in.

“It's do or die. We have to go in, play our game and get a win.”

Minutes after he scored to pull the Wings to within 2-1 early in the third, Hudler struck the right post from low in the right face-off circle.

“We got 40 shots and a lot of them are quality chances,” center Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s tough when we’re getting chances and chances and chances, and then they go up and they score. The momentum really goes over to their side and it’s tough to fight back.”

Early on the Wings accomplished what they set out to do, which was to start on time and pick-up where they left off in Game 3 when they controlled the third period. But they couldn’t get the tying goal past Rinne then either.

After two scoreless periods, the Predators scored the go-ahead goal when David Legwand popped the puck in off the back of Jimmy Howard’s left leg from behind the goal line. However, the Wings got lucky when referee Kevin Pollock lost sight of the puck and waved off the goal just 1:28 into the frame.

But moments later, the Predators scored a goal that did count when Gabriel Bourque was credited with his third tally of the series. The goal was set-up by a bad bounce that ricocheted off Todd Bertuzzi’s left skate and landed in front of Bourque. The goal came 27-seconds after the disallowed one, cleanly beating Howard on just the Predators’ 11th shot of the game.

“I think just in that third period, once they scored that first goal, I think both teams kind of got going again,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I think we got a little more desperate. I think we played solid from the start, from the get-go but we didn't score any goals. Finally the power play got one for us to get back in the game. They counterattacked and got another one pretty quick right after.”

During the regular-season the Wings led the Western Conference in scoring in 5-on-5 situations. But in the playoffs, Detroit has scored just three of its eight goals 5-on-5.

“You can't keep playing like this, having the puck all the time, and have the other team beat you,” coach Mike Babcock.

Despite being outplayed, the Predators hung around and waited to pounce on mistakes. The Wings held a 28-10 edge in shots through the first 40-minutes, but Rinne sparkled. And he got a big hand from center Mike Fisher, who made a huge first-period save.

Early in the game, Fisher saved the day after Filppula tipped Lidstrom’s point blast that made its way through Rinne’s legs. As the puck trickled toward the goal mouth, Fisher raced for the crease from the back side and swiped the puck toward the boards before it could cross the goal line.

“We weren't very happy with the first and second,” said Rinne, the 6-foot-5 Finland native. “They had too many shots, too many scoring chances. We buckled down in the third period.”

Now it’s the Wings who need to buckle down and get a win to bring the series back to Detroit for a Game 6 on Sunday.
“Yeah, everybody’s disappointed to say the least,” forward Danny Cleary said. “Down 3 to 1 now. We go back to Nashville here Friday and get ready. Our focus now is we’ve been in this position before so we really can’t look to far ahead. We have to focus on one game and get a win.

“It’s not over yet.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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