It might be unfair to blame the Predators’ early series struggles against Winnipeg on Pekka Rinne, after all he faced a combined 93 shots in Games 2 and 3, but he certainly hadn’t been a hero in those contests. Winnipeg had managed to score 12 goals over the first three games of the series and went into last night’s action with a 2-1 series edge as a result.
The Predators evened the series and it was thanks in large part to a strong performance from Rinne. They’ll need more of that out of Rinne if they are to edge Winnipeg in this series.
It’s also worth adding that Rinne’s win tied him for fifth place on the all-time postseason victories list among goaltenders that were born outside of Canada. He has 42 wins, which matches Evgeni Nabokov’s career total. Jonathan Quick ranks fourth on the list with 46 wins and given that the Kings have been eliminated, Rinne has an opportunity to surpass him if the Predators can get passed the Jets.
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PITTSBURGH 3 WASHINGTON 1 (Series tied at 2-2)
It was an eventual day for T.J. Oshie to say the least. Before the game even began, he was making headlines for his complaints about the NHL’s inconsistency when it came to enforcing head hits.
"There’s been a million times where I’ve gotten hit. I go to the ref and say I’ve gotten hit in the head. The ref just says, ‘He’s bigger than you.’ That’s the way it goes,” Oshie said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Jason Mackey.
As far as the game went, Oshie chipped in the Capitals’ only goal, but as the game died down and with the Penguins ahead, Oshie launched himself into the air in an attempt to smash Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang into the boards. Despite the hit being high, it didn’t actually appear that Oshie was principally striking Letang in the head, but for him to leap like that into a hit on the same day that he was talking about the league’s handling of head hits is a bad look for him. Oshie and Letang got into a fight as a result and that, plus Oshie’s earlier minor for interference, left him with seven penalty minutes as Oshie’s hit itself didn’t get called.
Moving on from that, Jake Guentzel had another big game with two goals. He’s up to 10 goals and 21 points in 10 playoff games.
Evgeni Malkin accounted for the Penguins’ other marker. That gives him four goals and seven points in seven postseason games.
Matt Murray kicked out 20 of 21 shots last night. He improved to 6-4 with a 2.33 GAA and .909 save percentage.
At the other end of the ice, Braden Holtby stopped 21 of 23 shots. He has a 6-3 record, 2.07 GAA, and .924 save percentage.
The series will continue on Saturday in Washington at 7:00 p.m. ET.
NASHVILLE 2 WINNIPEG 1 (Series tied at 2-2)
As mentioned above, Pekka Rinne came up big on Thursday. He turned aside 32 of 33 Jets shots. That gives him a 6-4 record, 2.86 GAA, and .909 save percentage in 10 playoff starts.
P.K. Subban netted the game-winning goal. It was his third marker and eighth point in 10 playoff games.
Ryan Hartman also found the back of the net for Nashville. He has two goals and three points in seven postseason contests.
Patrik Laine scored the Jets’ lone goal. He’s up to three goals and eight points in nine playoff games.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 27 of 29 shots last night. He has a 6-3 record, 2.32 GAA, and .921 save percentage.
Game 5 is set for Saturday at 9:30 p.m. ET in Nashville.