The Nashville Predators picked up their third straight win last night in Columbus. After a rough start to the road trip, Nashville finished with six points.
The Nashville Predators wrapped up their four game road trip last night with a victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following a disappointing loss to the Sharks to start the trip, Nashville rebounded and won three straight. Considering the way the trip started, Nashville finishing with six out of eight points is pretty good. The first two wins on the trip were offensively driven, but last night was a battle of the goalies. With as well as Pekka Rinne has been performing lately that is not something opposing teams should look to do too often.
I think I say this every week, but Rinne played one of his best games of the season last night. He only allowed one goal and made 35 saves in the process. The lone goal allowed came after a P.K. Subban turnover that led to a breakaway that Pierre-Luc Dubois backhanded past Rinne glove side. Other than that one outlier, Rinne was brilliant all night. He stonewalled Columbus on multiple occasions and frustrated the opposition to no end. As good as Rinne was, I would be remised if I didn’t speak on Joonas Korpisalo, as well.
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Coming into last night’s game Korpisalo hadn’t been great. He was just 1-2 in three starts and had a save percentage under .900. His play last night did not mirror these numbers, though. He stopped 26 of 28 shots and the two goals he allowed were nowhere near his fault. I don’t think many people expected this game to have been as low scoring as it was, but Rinne and Korpisalo deserve all the credit.
Not including Viktor Arvidsson’s empty net goal, Nashville had two goal scorers that we aren’t really accustomed to see scoring goals this season. The first goal of the game midway through the second period by a Predator defender. If you did not watch the game your first thought would probably be Roman Josi or P.K. Subban, but you’d be wrong, it was Matt Irwin. That’s right, Matt Irwin, who played less than 11 minutes, lit the lamp first for Nashville. Granted, the play was made by Arvidsson, but Irwin still had to shoot the puck and to his credit it went in. That’s his second goal of the season, and his play has really stepped up as of late.
Nashville’s other unlikely hero is a Swedish-born forward. No I am not talking about Filip Forsberg; I am speaking on Calle Jarnkrok. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time and scored the game-winning goal for Nashville. Miikka Salomaki took the puck in and drove wide. He then proceeded to throw it on net and a rebound jumped right to Jarnkrok’s stick. Jarnkrok shot it right back and Korpisalo never had a chance. Jarnkrok picked up his second goal of the season, and while I certainly don’t expect Irwin to keep scoring, it sure would be nice if Jarnkrok did.
Three Stars of the Game
#3. Viktor Arvidsson: Last night Arvidsson picked up two points in Nashville’s win over Columbus. He had the primary assist on Irwin’s goal. He also made a fantastic play to get behind the defense to set up that goal. Irwin will get the credit for that goal, but Arvidsson is the reason that it even happened. He also got the empty net goal to put the game on ice. What made it even more impressive was that he blocked a shot to set up his goal. Just to top his night off even more he finished with a +2 rating and played the second most minutes of any forward.
#2. Calle Järnkrok: It is pretty safe to say that Calle Järnkrok has been one of the most criticized players on Nashville’s roster. He has some pretty high expectations considering he was protected over former Predator James Neal. Last night’s performance is not justifying David Poile’s decision one way or the other, but he had a terrific game against the Blue Jackets. He tallied a +2 rating and led the forwards with 2 takeaways. However, his biggest moment of the night came 14 minutes into the third period, when he scored the game-winning goal. What made it even more impressive was that both goalies were tough to crack all night, which leads us to the #1 star.
#1. Pekka Rinne: There was never any doubt about last night’s #1 star. Pekka Rinne is literally on fire right now. I do not think I have ever been as confident in him in his entire career as I am now. He is seeing the puck better than ever and does not look like someone who just turned 35. Last night he stopped 35 of 36 shots. Just reading that on paper makes it seem like Rinne had a really good game. But if you watched the game and saw some of the stops he made, you understand just how magnificent his performance really was.
One thing is for sure, it doesn’t matter if the offense is struggling, with Rinne in net the Predators have a chance to win every night.