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Predators Go Perfect On The Week, Rinne Notches 300th Win

After losing two straight before this week’s four games, it felt like a make-or-break week for the Predators. In Nashville fashion, the Preds took care of business and reeled off four wins in a row. This team is scary good right now, and no team in the league wants a piece of the Central Division leaders.

THE GAMES:

Monday (2/19) vs. Ottawa Senators: 5-2 Win

As mentioned before, the Preds had dropped two ina row before Monday night’s game against Ottawa. Considering the way Nashville has been playing this season, that’s pretty uncharacteristic. Furthermore, the Preds hadn’t lost three games in a row all season. Fortunately, they looked like a completely different team come Monday night and handled their business promptly.

Captain Roman Josi got the scoring started for Nashville midway through the first period, and Viktor Arvidsson quickly followed for his first goal of the night. Ryan Ellis added to the lead in the second period dwith his fourth goal of the year. After allowing a goal two minutes later, Nashville responded once again. Viktor Arvidsson took a pass from Filip Forsberg and scored on the breakaway to make it 4-2. With his two goals, Arvidsson became the first Nashville Predator to score 20 goals this season.

Craig Smith would add one more goal in the third, and Nashville took the victory with relative ease. The Predators found their offense again and Pekka Rinne stepped up in a big way, making 36 saves.

Tuesday (2/20) @ Detroit Red Wings: 3-2 Win

The Predators had their back end of the back-to-back games on Tuesday when they traveled to Detroit. Nashville lost to the Red Wings the Saturday prior to this game and were looking to exact some revenge. Prior to this game, Nashville had not beaten Detroit since 2014. Not only were the Preds looking for retribution, but they were looking to end a three-year skid, as well.

Just like in Saturday’s matchup, Juuse Saros got the start for Nashville. Unlike Saturday’s game, though, Nashville didn’t waste time before getting on the scoreboard. Scott Hartnell scored first just four minutes in after deflecting a shot from Josi with his foot past the Detroit goalie. Five minutes later, Nashville scored again. This time it was Kyle Turris, who buried home a rebound. The Predators played a great period of hockey and held a 2-0 lead going into the second.

Nashville came back out in the second period and allowed one goal, the only goal of the period for either team. However, the Preds were not done yet — five minutes into the third period, Arvidsson took a pass from P.K. Subban that lead to a breakaway and buried it just under the goalie’s blocker. The Preds surrendered one more goal in the period, but ultimately were able to hold on for their first win against Detroit in three years.

Thursday (2/22) vs. San Jose Sharks: 7-1 Win

Thursday’s matchup against the Sharks was one of the Preds’ tougher matchups as of late. Entering the game, San Jose had won three in a row and seven of its last 10. Well, Nashville didn’t get that memo. The Preds scored seven times, their highest mark since Dec. 13 when they scored seven against the Vancouver Canucks.

This game was as high-scoring as it gets. All seven goals were by a different player. Each Nashville player (with the exception of the bottom line and Kyle Turris) registered at least one point in Thursday’s win. It really was an offensive outburst, and it proves just how lethal this team can be. However, there was an even bigger story as a result from this game.

Pekka Rinne picked up career win No. 300 thanks to the stomping.. He stopped 34-of-35 shots and comfortably led his team to another victory and a major milestone. Rinne is only the 34th goalie in NHL history to reach this mark, and he is currently tied with former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun on that list. He is now one of only seven active goaltenders to have reached this mark, and he certainly isn’t done. By season’s end he should easily move into the top 30. Depending on how long Rinne decides to continue to play, he will only continue to rise up the ranks of this list.

Sunday (2/25) vs. St. Louis Blues: 4-0 Win

The final game of the week was the final matchup of the season for Nashville and St. Louis. The Predators had won the previous three and were looking for the season sweep; but, not only were they looking to sweep the series, they were also on three-game win streak and hoping to win a fourth in a row.

Nashville didn’t have to wait long to get things started. Colton Sisson lit the lamp only five minutes in on the power play. The Preds added one more in the first with a goal from Kevin Fiala, his 20th of the year. The second period was more of the same. Nashville scored twice, once off of Scott Hartnell’s skate and once on Austin Watson’s shorthanded goal.

The Predators had no issue handling the rest of the game, and they held on for the shutout. Nashville swept the season series and won its fourth straight. One thing of note: keep an eye on the status of Ryan Ellis. He left the game late limping after blocking a shot. He seemed O.K. after the game, but with those kind of injuries, you never know the full extent that early.

WHERE THEY STAND

Nashville has taken back its spot atop the division standings with 85 points after a perfect week. The 85-point mark is good enough for third-best in the NHL behind the Vegas Golden Knights and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Behind Nashville in the standings are the Winnipeg Jets with 83 points, who are followed by the Minnesota Wild. The Dallas Stars now occupy the first wild-card spot. For the first time in a long time, a central division team does not hold the second wild-card position. That honor now belongs to the Anaheim Ducks.

Now, after their recent skid, the St. Louis Blues have fallen out of playoff contention with 72 points. Behind them is Colorado with 69 and Chicago with 62 points. These teams are not in playoff contention yet, but with a month and a half left still to play, anything can happen.

WHAT’S NEXT?

The Preds have themselves another busy schedule this week, the only difference being that every game this week will be played on the road. Things start off with a huge game in Winnipeg. These are the top two teams in the central, and this game could help decide who will win the division.

The Preds will stay in Canada for their second game of the trip when they travel to Edmonton. The Oilers are one of the biggest surprises of the season, but for all the wrong reasons. Edmonton was a team with high expectations, but they have disappointed mightily and have the third-worst record in the Western Conference. Despite this, they still have probably the best player in the world on their team in Connor McDavid, so they should not be taken lightly.

For the final two games of the week Nashville will play the Vancouver Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche. Neither team is really all that great, so it will be important for Nashville to take advantage of this and steal the last four points of the road trip.

Tuesday (2/27) @ Winnipeg Jets 8 p.m. ET

Thursday (3/1) @ Edmonton Oilers 9 p.m. ET

Friday (3/2) @ Vancouver Canucks  10 p.m. ET

Sunday (3/4) @ Colorado Avalanche 3 p.m. ET

THREE STARS OF THE WEEK

THIRD STAR: Kevin Fiala  

Fiala had himself another great week. In four games, he tallied two goals and two assists. He also became the second player on the team to reach the 20-goal mark with his goal against the Blues on Sunday. As the season wraps up, it will be important for him to continue this type of play into the playoffs.

SECOND STAR: Viktor Arvidsson

Arvidsson scored three goals and had one assist this week. With his two goals against the Ottawa Senators, he became the first player on the team to score 20 goals. He is living up to all the hype from the preseason and just seems to be clicking on all cylinders. He’s exciting to watch every night and as long as he keeps this play up, he will find his way back into three stars every week.

FIRST STAR: Pekka Rinne

There might not have been a player in the NHL who had a better week than Rinne. He started the week with a 36-save win against the Senators, then he made 33 saves against the San Jose Sharks. However, there was much more to that win. That victory was Rinne’s 300th win of his career. This is a major accomplishment and huge milestone for Rinne. Then, to cap off the week, he had a 27-save shutout against the Blues.

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