FINLAND’S Pekka Rinne made 23 saves and the Nashville Predators reached their first Western Conference final with a 3-1 win over St. Louis in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Rinne, who has allowed just 14 goals in 10 post-season games, frustrated the Blues with his superb goaltending and Ryan Johansen scored the eventual game winner at 3:15 of the third period giving Nashville a 4-2 series victory on Sunday.
“It’s something we haven’t done before,” said the 34-year old Rinne, the team’s longest-tenured player.
“Every game in the series was real tight, a lot of one-goal games. It’s a great feeling, but there’s a lot of work left.”
Rinne’s best stop came halfway through the final period when he made a pad save in the goalmouth off Canadian Kyle Brodziak, allowing the Predators to go on and advance to their first NHL semi-final series in the team’s 19-year history.
Johansen scored at 3:15 of the third to break a 1-1 tie. He took a pass from Sweden’s Viktor Arvidsson and deked goaltender Jake Allen for his second goal of the post-season.
Calle Jarnkrok sealed it with an empty-net marker at 19:00. Swiss defenceman Roman Josi also scored for Nashville.
It was Josi’s fourth goal of the playoffs and continued a pattern of Predators defencemen supplying scoring. Nashville defencemen had scored half of the team’s 32 points as well as seven of its goals.
“It’s part of our system,” Josi said. “Our system allows us to jump up in the play, and the forwards do a great job of getting pucks to us. We have a lot of (defencemen) that can jump up in the play.” Paul Stastny, son of Czech hall of famer Peter Stastny, scored the only goal for St. Louis while Allen finished with 15 saves.
The Predators will play the winner of the other West series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Edmonton Oilers.