Rinne, Predators continue to stymie Blackhawks
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[November 29, 2017]
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As he
watched his teammates frantically try to solve Pekka Rinne for the
tying goal in the last 10-plus minutes Tuesday night, Chicago
Blackhawks goalie Anton Forsberg got a glimpse of why Rinne has
become their nemesis.
"He's been around for a long time, and you could see why," Forsberg
Rinne is showing no signs of slowing down in his age 35 season,
coming up with 37 saves as the Nashville Predators turned away
Chicago 3-2 at sold-out Bridgestone Arena.
In upping his record to 14-3-2, Rinne made at least four 10-bell
stops. He stoned Patrick Kane on consecutive Grade A chances early
in the first period, denied Jonathan Toews in the blue paint about
five minutes into the second period and stopped Nick Schmaltz on a
short-handed breakaway with about seven minutes remaining.
There was also considerable help from left winger Austin Watson in
the last minute as the Blackhawks skated with six attackers. Watson
dropped to the ice to block three consecutive shots, sealing
Nashville's ninth win in 11 home matches.
"There's an art to what he does, and it was on full display at the
end," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of Watson. "The puck
always seems to find him."
It also found him offensively. Watson deflected Matt Irwin's slapper
past Forsberg at 3:48 of the second period to snap a 1-1 tie. It was
the third goal for Watson and his second since returning from a
two-game suspension last week.
The goal survived a lengthy replay review requested by Chicago coach
Joel Quenneville, who believed Watson interfered with Forsberg. But
the contact occurred after the puck passed by Forsberg, rendering it
"I looked at it and it was close," Quenneville said. "It could have
gone either way."
There was no doubt about the eventual game-winner. With Kane in the
box for crosschecking Kevin Fiala, Roman Josi blistered a slapper
from the left circle past Forsberg's glove at 2:32 of the third
period for his sixth goal.
It was Nashville's 18th man-advantage marker in 11 games. It has
scored at least one power-play goal in all 11 home games and its
home power-play percentage of 40 percent is easily the best in the
"We have a lot of confidence in our team and a lot of depth," Josi
said. "We have four good lines, three good (defense) pairings and
great goaltending. It's been a great month for us for sure."
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Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) makes a save during the first
period against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena.
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
The Predators' 10th win in 13 November games came with more than a
little suspense, though. Lance Bouma's snapper from the bottom of
the right circle at 9:38 pulled the Blackhawks within a goal.
Chicago got a late man-advantage opportunity at 15:37 when Josi was
called for tripping Alex DeBrincat.
But Nashville (15-6-3) killed the penalty, even after Quenneville
lifted Forsberg for a sixth skater near the end. And it defended
well enough in the end to beat the Blackhawks in their first visit
to town since a four-game sweep in last season's Western Conference
playoffs that helped propel the Predators to their first Stanley Cup
"That's as loud as I've heard the building since the playoffs,"
Nashville center Ryan Johansen said.
Filip Forsberg pushed the decibel level to its peak right away,
notching his 12th goal at 3:16 of the first period as he collected a
rebound and poked it inside the right post. Tommy Wingels responded
for Chicago at 5:12, wristing a silky pass from DeBrincat for his
Despite playing their second game in less than 24 hours, the
Blackhawks (12-9-3) owned a 39-31 advantage in shots on goal and a
74-62 margin in total shots. But Rinne, who ceded only five goals in
last spring's sweep, stood tall in the net again.
"He made big saves all game," Laviolette said. "When we needed him
to bail us out, he did. He was awesome."
NOTES: Chicago RW Patrick Kane was fined $5,000 by the NHL on
Tuesday for a slash against Anaheim's Nick Ritchie on Monday night
in the third period of the Blackhawks' 7-3 victory. The fine is the
maximum allowed under the NHL's CBA. ... Nashville D Yannick Weber
and LW Scott Hartnell (lower-body injuries) skated with the team
Tuesday morning but missed their eighth straight game apiece. ...
Chicago scratched D Michal Kempny, C Tanner Kero and D Jordan
Oesterle. ... The Predators' scratches were LW Cody McLeod and C
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