Pekka Rinne had a 38-save night to help the Predators sweep the back-to-back series against the division-leading Blues with a 2-1 score.
It always feels good to beat these guys. The Preds bested the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions all four times they met this season, allowing the Blues just two or fewer goals in each game. Tonight's win also marks the first time the Preds have won three games in a row since October, and puts their record at 2-1 when donning their Winter Classic jerseys.
Craig Smith- Nashville's hottest trade item- is only growing his stock for the Feb. 24 trade deadline. The forward notched his sixth goal in five games with a baseball knock on an incredibly bouncy Rocco Grimaldi rebound. Smith and his linemates- Grimaldi and Nick Bonino- are shredding defenses lately. Collectively, they are posting a +54 on-ice rating this year. Kyle Turris, savior of the game, now has four points in two games.
In his last start, Rinne was yanked in favor of Juuse Saros after allowing four Vancouver goals on 17 shots. If it weren't for Tyler Bozak's scrappy goal tonight, Rinne would have completed a full turnaround by posting a shutout after getting pulled in his prior start. 38 saves on 39 shots later, and Rinne glided off the ice tonight with a .974 save percentage.
St. Louis' defensemen gave Rinne hell tonight; each of the six recorded at least two shots on net. Only Carl Gunnarsson and Alex Pietrangelo yielded any points for the corps, assisting on the goal that wound up being the Blues' sole score of the night. Before tonight, St. Louis' Zach Sanford had scored five goals in two games. He took a team-high six shots on Rinne, but ultimately found his neck-breaking streak snapped.
The Preds' last-place penalty kill unit (74 percent kill rate) was able to stave off the Blues on both power play opportunities they got tonight. However, the Preds were also unable to convert on either of theirs.
Beating the division leaders is a self-esteem boost this Preds team has been desperately parched for; the Preds are now 7-3-0 in their last 10 games, while the Blues are 2-6-2 in their last 10 and on a five-game losing streak.
Dallas lost in overtime tonight, but the extra point tied them with St. Louis atop the Central. With a Winnipeg loss tonight, the Preds will have positioned themselves in the division's fourth place with one game in hand and two points on the Jets. To advance into Wild Card placement, the 65-point Preds will need to surpass Calgary and Arizona's 66 points in the Western Conference standings.
Now seven points removed from catching the next-highest ranked Central team- Colorado- the Preds can revive their playoff hopes with a refreshed mindset going into Tuesday's game against Carolina.