Rinne, Predators regain winning ways with victory at Minnesota

Friday, December 31, 2010 at 8:37pm
Staff reports

Pekka Rinne made 22 saves and won for the first time in four starts as the Nashville Predators snapped their five-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Rinne was winless since his return from knee surgery on Dec. 23 but stymied a Minnesota team that had scored three or more in five of its previous six contests until Chuck Kobasew scored with 1:54 to play.

Cody Franson, Patric Hornqvist, Joel Ward and Sergei Kostitsyn all scored for the Predators, who had five goals total during their losing streak. Ward and Kostitsyn each scored empty-net goals in the final 66 seconds.

The teams entered the contest separated by one point in the Western Conference standings. Nashville was 12th with 40 points and Minnesota was 13th with 39. The victory lifted the Predators into a tie with Anaheim, which started the day in ninth place, at 42 points.

David Legwand returned to the Nashville lineup after having missed 17 of the previous 18 games. He quickly got on the board with an assist on Franson’s goal that made 1-0 4:23 into the contest.

Legwand now has four assists in his last six appearances and seven for the season.

Hornqvist’s goal was his first in a road game since Nov. 7 at Anaheim. Since then he endured an 11-game stretch without any goals and found the net three times at home, most recently Dec. 13 when he scored twice against the New York Islanders.

It was Hornqvist’s ninth of the season, which tied him with Colin Wilson, one behind team leader Steve Sullivan.

The Predators are at home Sunday (5 p.m., Bridgestone Arena) against the Columbus Blue Jackets.