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Erat shines as Predators win in shootout

PA Stats Inc
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The Hockey News
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Erat shines as Predators win in shootout

PA Stats Inc
By:

By Jim Diamond
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Martin Erat scored his sixth
goal of the season to forge a tie midway through the third
period and netted the lone tally of the shootout as the
Nashville Predators recorded a 3-2 victory over the Florida
Panthers on Saturday.

Pekka Rinne turned aside attempts by Nathan Horton and Cory
Stillman in the bonus format before Rostislav Olesz misfired on
his opportunity as the Predators rolled to their third win in
four games.

"I thought Pekka was really, really good tonight," Nashville
coach Barry Trotz said. "When it was 2-1, he made a couple of
great saves that if they had scored on, I'm pretty sure we'd be
sitting here now singing a different tune."

Defenseman Shea Weber scored a power-play goal in the first
period and Rinne made 24 saves for Nashville.

Olesz and defenseman Karlis Skrastins tallied in regulation for
Florida, which has dropped three straight.

After a scoreless first round of the shootout, Rinne stopped a
backhander by Stillman on the Panthers' second attempt. Erat
then beat goaltender Craig Anderson with a wrist shot, and Olesz
backhanded the puck over the net on Florida's last chance,
sealing the win for the Predators.

"Even though it was my first shootout, I tried to stay patient,"
Rinne said. "I got lucky at the end there, when (Olesz) shot it
wide."

After being denied in his first shootout of the season during a
4-3 loss on Tuesday at Washington, Erat was glad to get another
opportunity.

"I felt bad after we lost the game in Washington, and I tried to
prepare for another shootout," he said. "I've been practicing
that move, and it worked tonight."

His shot that made it just inside the left goalpost also baffled
Anderson.

"I read the play and followed him pretty well," Anderson said.
"It just squeaked by."

From behind the net, J.P. Dumont slid a pass to Weber, who beat
Anderson high to the stick side with a wrist shot with 3:31 left
in the first period for his fifth goal of the season and a 1-0
lead.

Dumont continued his impressive campaign, notching his
team-leading 14th point with the assist. He has recorded a
point in all but one of Nashville's games this season.

"(Dumont) is a world-class player," Weber said. "He can make
plays in tight spots, and that was just another one of his great
passes."

Florida tied the game 57 seconds later, when defenseman Keith
Ballard sent a pass to Olesz, who fooled Rinne on a partial
breakaway.

"It was a nice pass," Olesz said. "I was able to get behind
their defense, and then it was just me and their goalie."

Making his second consecutive start for Nashville as Dan Ellis
continues to nurse a sore back, Rinne was solved again with 8:45
left in the second as Skrastins beat him with a wrister for his
100th career point and a 2-1 edge.

A former Predator, Skrastins collected 54 points in 307 games
with the team between 1999-2003.

Erat pulled Nashville even at 9:51 of the third, burying a
rebound while on the doorstep after David Legwand's initial
attempt was stopped by Anderson.

"(Legwand) made a nice play getting the puck out of the air and
the shot on the goal," Erat said. "I just went for the rebound
and it went in."

Beginning a five-game road trip, Florida fell in its first
shootout of the season.

"We gave them a chance to hang around, and then they got that
goal in the third," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "I was
pretty impressed with their goalie tonight."

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Erat shines as Predators win in shootout