Pekka Rinne is really that good. The Nashville goaltender who established himself as one of the elite NHL goaltenders by stopping 41 of 43 Red Wing shots last game followed that performance with an even better one. Rinne was nothing short of mind-boggling on Tuesday night, making 40 saves on 41 shots, eventually lifting his team to a 3-1 win.
The loss puts Detroit in a 3-1 series hole, which seems insurmountable with the blistering-hot play of Rinne.
Other than Rinne, the Predators certainly looked like the lesser team, getting badly outshot (17-41) as well as taking several untimely penalties in the third period.
The Red Wings, however, did everything but score. Penalties had plagued them through three games, and they took just three penalties all game, including a very questionable tripping call that went against Pavel Datsyuk. With the penalties eliminated, Detroit was able to take full control of this game from start to finish.
They just didn’t win.
Even when Nashville struck first after more than 40 minutes of scoreless hockey, it still seemed as though the Red Wings would come back to win. When Jiri Hudler finally put one past Rinne on a Wings power play to tie the game, everyone at Joe Louis Arena knew the Wings would come out of this with a win.
Then, when Nashville scored again to take a 2-1 lead, the “Let’s go Red Wings” chants only got louder.
But Detroit never was able to put the puck in the net to get that game tying goal.
After the shock, dismay, and frustration passes for Red Wings fans, they will have to accept the reality that in sports, the best team doesn’t always win. On Tuesday night, the Red Wings
were that better team that lost.
While the series isn’t over, Detroit now faces a 3-1 deficit that seems about as tall a task as climbing Mount Everest. Against Rinne, a two goal deficit is monstrous- trailing him by two games, the series feels over.
The series has been a stage for several Red Wings to shine, most notably Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg has been peppering Rinne with good shots all series, and added six more in game four. Defenseman Brad Stuart also continued his solid play, and winger Drew Miller has been outstanding, especially on the penalty kill.
The problem has been with goalie Jimmy Howard. Howie has a dismal save percentage of .879, and has been absolutely dominated by his counterpart Rinne. Don’t be surprised if coach Mike Babcock gives Joey MacDonald a chance in net for game five.
What to watch for
The Wings will need to show resilience in order to compete in game five in Nashville
Friday @ Nashville (8:00pm, FSD, CNBC)
Sunday vs Nashville (IF NECESSARY) (TBD, FSD)
Tuesday @ Nashville (IF NECESSARY) (TBD, FSD)
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