Predators goalie plans scuttled, power play produces against Jets

Saturday, September 24, 2011 at 11:28pm

The Nashville Predators expected to get an extended look at Pekka Rinne on Saturday. Then they saw something else.

Rinne had blood pouring down his face, inside his mask when he skated to the bench with 5:36 to play in the second period.

“I was kind of looking at him and was like, ‘What the heck?’ defenseman Ryan Suter said. “You don’t see a goalie with a cut that often.”

The laceration was the result of a shot that hit Rinne in the head so hard that his mask got knocked back in a way that it sliced him open above the right eye.

Team doctors closed it with 12 stitches, and Chet Pickard, who opened the game in goal, closed the evening with 13 straight saves, including several in the closing minutes, as the Predators rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets before 14,701 at Bridgestone Arena.

“I wanted to come back in but they were worried about infections and stuff so it’s just, I guess, better safe than sorry,” Rinne said. “Chet did a great job in relief.”

Pickard, a first-round draft choice (18th overall) in 2008 was rewarded for his offseason training and conditioning efforts with the start. The plan was for him to play the opening 20 minutes and then turn it over to Rinne, who wanted to be tested in the final minutes of a contest before he assumed a full workload in upcoming contests.

The Jets took an early 2-0 lead against Pickard as the Predators got off to a slow start in their first home game of the preseason. They had nearly as many penalties (four) in the opening 20 minutes as they did shots on goal (five) but still trailed by only one, 2-1, at the first intermission.

Nashville led 4-3 when Pickard reentered, which he did just 34 seconds after a run of three Predators power play goals in a span of 4:36.

He held firm even as his team was outshot 11-2 in the final period.

“It was good because we left him out to dry there in the first,” Suter said. “We finally turned it up in the second and it was good to see him get back in there and play so well for us.”

Jordin Tootoo, Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist all scored for Nashville, which improved to 4-1 in the preseason and won for the third time in four days.

Rinne, despite his abbreviated appearance, was credited with the victory.

 “We felt [the start] would be a good thing to do for [Pickard],” Trotz said. “We try to reward guys for making changes in the way they do things and the did. So that was the thought process.

“… He did well after the first period. … I thought he did fine, and, obviously, he got a save.”

One that did not leave him bloody either.

Roster moves: Pickard was one of 17 players cut from the NHL roster, moves that were announced following the contest.

The bulk of those players will join the Milwaukee Admirals, who open training camp Tuesday.

In addition to Pickard, forwards Taylor Beck, Ryan Flynn, Jani Lajunen, Michael Latta, Juuso Puustinen, Josh Shalla, Robert Slaney, defensemen Taylor Aronson, Victor Bartley and Charles-Olivier Roussel and goalie Atte Engren were reassigned to Milwaukee.

Forwards Joel Champagne and Mark Van Guilder, defensemen Jeff Foss, Scott Ford and Scott Valentine were released from their tryout deals and were expected to join Milwaukee.

Forwards Brodie Dupont and Ben Ryan were placed on the non-roster injured list.

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