The Preds. are needing this one bad. Its against our old goal tender. I think we win by 2 or more but the 2 pts are huge.
By Sports Network
The Sports Network
Nashville's Pekka Rinne has been playing like a goaltender that could steal some games in the playoffs. Now all the Predators have to do is get there.
The Preds will try to get closer to that goal tonight, when they visit the fading Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.
Saturday's 1-0, 11-round shootout loss to Detroit was just Nashville's second defeat in its last nine games. Rinne has started each game of that 7-1-1 stretch, posting four shutouts and a 1.40 goals-against average.
Despite the loss, Rinne was credited with his seventh shutout of the season and 14th of his career. He made 38 saves and stopped 9-of-11 Red Wings skaters in the shootout phase.
"Obviously, I was mad after the game," Rinne said. "It was a solid effort, a big one point."
Nashville, though, remained one point ahead of Detroit for fifth place in the Western Conference standings with six games to play and is seven points up on ninth-place Calgary. The Predators failed to reach the postseason last year after four straight appearances.
They'll try for their fourth win in their last five meetings with the Panthers and posted a 4-1 victory over the club at home on Nov. 28. Nashville hasn't won at Florida since Dec. 23, 2002, but has only played there twice since.
Florida hasn't made the playoffs since 2000, and its chances this year took another hit on Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Ottawa. The Panthers are nine points out of a playoff spot with eight games remaining.
Stephen Weiss and Steven Reinprecht each had a goal while Tomas Vokoun made 22 saves for the Panthers, who lost the final two games of a three-game road trip and have also dropped five of their last seven contests overall.
"We're not getting anything," Florida head coach Peter DeBoer told NHL.com. "Whether it's a goalie pitching a shutout or a defenseman getting on the board or a forward scoring two or three [goals], we're not finding a difference- maker on any given night."
Florida, which has lost seven of its last 10 at home, played without Gregory Campbell (broken foot) and David Booth (concussion). Campbell is day-to-day, while Booth is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Meanwhile, Nashville captain Jason Arnott remains day-to-day with a head injury.
Vokoun will face his former club for just the third time and skated with Nashville from 1998-99 through the 2006-07 season. He was traded to the Panthers in June of 2007 and is 1-1-0 with a 2.00 goals against average versus the Predators.
Rinne, Nashville's likely starter for tonight, is also 1-1-0 versus the Panthers with a 1.94 GAA
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