Predators seize chance to repay Rinne, rally to defeat Avalanche

Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 11:52pm

Play was stopped and there was 9:29 to go in regulation, but Pekka Rinne could not wait.

The Nashville Predators goalie skated over to his team’s bench during the timeout and thanked left wing Sergei Kostitsyn, whose goal less than two minutes earlier tied the score.

At the end of regulation, Rinne was back at the bench thanking anyone who would listen. His gratitude only deepened when David Legwand scored the game-winner 34 seconds into overtime and lifted the Predators to a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday before 16,905 at Bridgestone Arena.

“I just felt great at the end of [regulation],” Rinne said. “I knew that at least I had battled to a point for us. I felt like they did such a great job even though the start of the game wasn’t the easiest for anybody.

“Yeah, I felt like I needed to say a little ‘Thank you.’ ”

A little more than 12 minutes into the contest — the second meeting in three days between the teams — Nashville trailed 2-0 courtesy of a pair of unlikely gaffes by Rinne.

Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly intercepted a poor attempt at a clearing pass and immediately deposited the puck in the unattended net for a 1-0 lead at 6:09 of the opening period. Then Rinne allowed Gabriel Landeskog’s seemingly harmless shot from the left wing boards get by him with 12:17 gone.

He cited “overconfidence” as the primary reason for both miscues.

“We all, myself too, we were able to bounce back,” Rinne said. “… You realize that sometimes you’re going to make mistakes. You [don’t] want to make those mistakes … but you just try to forget it and move forward.”

He ultimately made 27 saves and notched his 22nd win of the season, which is tied for second in the league.

More than half of the shots he faced came in the first period. After that, his teammates played tighter on defense and outshot the Avalanche 26-14 over the final two periods plus 2-0 in overtime.

“The first two goals weren’t [Rinne’s] best effort, if you will, but he made a couple of big saves late in the second period and that was a really big key for us,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We just kept coming and coming.”

Legwand started the comeback in earnest when he scored at 11:02 of the second period. Kostitsyn tied it with 11:12 to play in regulation.

“Pekks is a great goalie and a good teammate,” Legwand said. “He knows when he’s made a mistake and that’s fine. We all know he’s going to be there for us, and we have to be there for him. That’s what the guys do in here — they stick up for each other.

“We stood up for him [Thursday] night. He’s done it enough for us in the past.”

Rinne was not afraid to stand up afterward and take full blame for both Colorado goals. First, though, he had to say a thing or two to his teammates.

“Pekka has bailed us out so many times,” Trotz said. “Pekks would, obviously, like to have both of those goals back but we were able to bail him out.

“… You watch Pekks right after the game and he’s high-fiving everybody. It just feels good to bail him out because he’s the guy that bails us out all the time.”


• Legwand’s game-winner was his second overtime goal this season. The Predators have just three overtime victories.

“He has a little bit of a penchant for getting the big goals this year, the overtime goals,” Trotz said.

It’s not just this season. Legwand’s nine career overtime goals are more than twice as many as any other Nashville player ever.

• The Predators improved to 5-12-0 when trailing after two periods.

Their .294 winning percentage in such situations is best in the Western Conference and their five victories are tied for second. Ottawa leads with the league with six victories and a .300 winning percentage.

“You’re finding out a lot about the character we have,” Trotz said. “It’s a real good win for us.”

1 Comment on this post:

By: MusicCity615 on 1/13/12 at 1:52