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Wings stymied by Predators' Rinne

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne robs Henrik Zetterberg on this shot in the second period of Friday's game at JLA. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – It was the save heard around Hockeytown, and one that may ultimately prevent the Red Wings from claiming home-ice in a possible first-round playoff series with the Nashville Predators.

Goalie Pekka Rinne was nearly impenetrable for Nashville Friday night in a game that both teams needed in a three-team scramble to lock-up the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference standings.

Though Rinne stopped 31 shots, it was one particular glove save that took most of the air out of the Wings’ offensive sails at Joe Louis Arena.

“We knew he was good. That wasn't a big surprise. He played good here today,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “There's a pretty good chance we'll see him in the first round. He's going to play the same against us in the first round or like that against anyone else.”

With 3:01 left in the second period and the Wings’ power play clicking along, Rinne robbed Zetterberg when he gloved a wrist shot from close range that seemed earmarked for the back of the net. WATCH SAVE

“Homer made a good play with his skate and I thought it was open, but he reached back and made a play,” Zetterberg said. “If I keep it on the ice it's a goal. In your head you always want to get the puck up, but in that case I probably should have kept it on the ice.”

The Wings peppered Rinne with 17 shots in the second period alone, including 12 on three power plays. Unfortunately, the Wings couldn’t manage to slip anything by the 6-foot-5 Finnish goaltender, who earned his league-leading 42nd win of the season.

“We had quality chances, but couldn't really find a way to get pucks behind him,” said Zetterberg, who had five shots on goal. “I think we got good opportunities on the power play in the second, but we missed out.

“I think we're doing a lot of good things, but at the same time we're trying to do too much sometimes. We need to keep it more simple, trust each other, do your own and the outcome will be better.”

But not against Rinne was spectacular in only allowing Jiri Hudler’s late third-period tally in a 4-1 win for the Predators, who now have 98-points – one ahead of Detroit – and a grasp on the No. 4 seed. The Predators return home Saturday where they will host Chicago, who currently have 95 points.

“The score wasn’t flattering for us,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we did lots of good things. It was kind of like the game that I expected. I didn’t think there would be much room for either team and I didn’t think there was.”

With the importance of Friday’s game, the Wings had to take care of business, especially at home. But Rinne’s save, coupled by Tomas Holmstrom’s tip off the crossbar preserved the Predators’ 1-0 lead until the final minute of the second period when Nashville took a 2-0 lead on Francis Bouillon’s goal at 19:27.

“It was a great tip by Tommy there, I haven’t seen a lot of tips by Tommy, so that was great, but it didn’t go in and that’s the difference in the game,” Babcock said. “You go up 2-0 or 2-1, it’s your game. But this was a game that I kind of expected, I would have liked to have won this game for sure, but I still thought we took a step as a team and that’s what matters to me.

“We’ve got to get playing way better than we have and feeling better about ourself. I thought it was a positive step through two periods, but we didn’t feel too good in the third period, obviously.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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