Pekka Rinne (via NHL)
Nashville Predators netminder Pekka Rinne struggled early in the season, but he’s starting to heat up in the playoffs. Watch his awesome consecutive right pad stops on Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi.
Though Pekka Rinne likely wouldn’t take the credit, the Nashville Predators would almost certainly heap praise on their veteran netminder if asked why the team was able to get by the Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the first round. And through two games of the second-round series against the San Jose Sharks, it’s been Rinne who has given Nashville a chance in both tilts with his best work coming in Game 2.
In the second period of a scoreless contest, Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi turned what looked like a nothing play into a great scoring chance for the Sharks. As Joel Ward skated into the neutral zone, he banked a puck off the boards to Donskoi, who spotted a streaking Couture cutting up the middle of the ice. Couture was able to get enough room to switch the puck to his forehand and fire a low shot that Rinne had to be quick to boot away. He couldn’t control the rebound, though, and it ended up right on Donskoi’s tape.
It would be safe to assume that 90 percent of the time, Donskoi would have been lifting his arms in the air and celebrating a goal with the room he had to shoot at, but Rinne wasn’t about to be beaten on the rebound. He darted back across, and made a second right pad stop, this time sending Donskoi’s chance wide of the net:
Eventually, the Sharks would find the back of the net on the power play. It was Couture who got the goal, but it was a no-doubter on a rebound Rinne had no chance at stopping. And when the Sharks scored their go-ahead goal late in the third period, it came on yet another rebound that Rinne would have needed superhuman ability to turn aside.
Rinne’s saves Sunday were enough to give Nashville a shot late in the contest at stealing a game in San Jose, but the Predators couldn’t strike first or manage a second goal to put the pressure on the Sharks until after Joe Thornton iced the game with an empty-netter for San Jose.
With how Rinne has played over his past three outings, though, the Predators could still have a great shot at winning another round. Rinne has a .944 save percentage and 1.79 goals-against average in his past four games, and he's playing the best hockey of the season. If the Predators can find a way to solve Sharks goaltender Martin Jones more than twice in a game, Nashville could turn this series around in a hurry.