The Nashville Predators came into the 2011 NHL playoffs looking to do something different.
Wednesday they did.
For the first time in their postseason history, they changed goalies in a playoff game. That moment came with 13:14 to play in the third period when Pekka Rinne was replaced by rookie Anders Lindback.
At the time, Nashville was well on its way to a 6-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks before a sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. The move was made after Anaheim broke a 3-3 tie with three goals in a span of 5:29.
The six goals were the most ever allowed by the Predators in a postseason contest. Five times previously they gave up five, including their loss in Game 2 of this series.
“[Rinne] has played a lot of hockey for us,” coach Barry Trotz said. “You make the switch and let him rest and regroup a little bit. Hopefully the guys respond and play hard in front of [Lindback].”
Lindback stopped all nine shots he faced.
Not only had Nashville not changed goalies during a playoff game, it had never used more than one goalie in a single playoff series. In its previous four trips, one netminder (Tomas Vokoun twice, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis once each) played every minute of a series.
Through four games of the series, Rinne has a 3.73 goals-against average and an .860 save percentage.
“We feel like … when we get in on [Rinne] there is the possibility to put pucks in certain areas on him,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “I don’t think in any terms you can say he’s not a good goalie — he’s a great goalie. … [But] there are tendencies we feel we can exploit, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
• Efficient pair: Matt Halischuk and Blake Geoffrion lost their linemate. With him went some of their ice time, which already was limited.
They made the most of what opportunity they did get in the second period. Halischuk had just two shifts yet scored his first career playoff goal, which tied it 3-3 with 5:15 to play before the second intermission.
Following a turnover in the Nashville end, Halischuk carried the puck up ice, fed it to Kevin Klein and skated straight to the Ducks’ net. He was at the far post — uncontested — when Klein circled behind the net and fed him for an easy finish.
Halischuk had so much room because Geoffrion, on his only shift of the period, took up position at the front of the net and attracted two Ducks to him.
The playing time of Halischuk and Geoffrion was minimized when linemate Steve Sullivan replaced the injured Martin Erat on a line with David Legwand and Joel Ward.
The two got more time in the third after things got out of hand.
• Erat out: Erat was classified with an “upper body” injury after a neutral zone collision with Anaheim’s Jarkko Ruutu four minutes into the second period. Ruutu was called for interference on the play.
There was no immediate update on Erat's status or his availability for the rest of the series.
“It would be really, really sad to see him go,” Sullivan said. “Hopefully it’s not too bad, he’ll come back very quickly and we can get him going. We’re going to need him for [Game 5].”
Erat was one of four Nashville players with three points (one goal, two assists) through the first three games of the series. Only Mike Fisher (five points) had more.
• Quote of note: “All game I just thought we were making major blunders.” — Trotz, on the Predators’ play.
• Mr. Consistency: For the second straight year, Nashville General Manager David Poile has been named one of three finalists for the NHL General Manager of the Year award.
The finalists, announced Wednesday, also included Mike Gillis of Vancouver and Steve Yzerman of Tampa Bay.
The award was created a year ago, and Poile is the only one to make the top three each year in voting by NHL general managers and a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media.
The winner will be announced June 22 during the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
• Briefly: Shea Weber had an assist and regained a share of the Predators’ all-time playoff scoring lead. He and Erat both have 16. … The Ducks set series highs for shots in a game (38) and in a period (16 in the first). … Ryan Suter and Cody Franson each have three assists, which ties the Nashville postseason record for defensemen. … Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne leads all players in the series with five goals, four of them on the power play.