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Rinne, Mason put on a show in Preds OT win…

Any young, aspiring netminder at the Bridgestone Arena got admission to a goaltending clinic for free tonight.

In a game where neither goalie deserved to lose, Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators outlasted Steve Mason and the Columbus Blue Jackets 1-0, putting the Preds in 5th place in the Western Conference standings for the time being.

Both men were unflappable tonight, combining for 63 saves, more than a handful of the “difficult” variety. No matter what the teams threw at them, each goalie was equal to the task, and looked in complete control doing it. Through 60 minutes, each stood tall and kept the puck out of their net. It wasn’t until the extra frame that one got by Mason, giving him the undeserved loss.

Mason looked so good that it prompted the @cellblock303 Twitter account to proclaim this.

The shutout was Rinne’s third in five games and the win was his fifth in a row. He is now 7-1-0 since March 2 and since signing a two-year extension to stay in Music City.

Mason turned aside all 30 Nashville shots in regulation but a floating wrist shot from the point in overtime by rookie defenseman Cody Franson was the difference maker. And even that one he got a piece of, it just trickled in behind him.

Rinne faced 33 Blue Jackets shots and kept them all out of the net he was guarding, including this incredible glove save in overtime on Mike Commodore‘s breakaway.

Just two weeks ago there were scratching and clawing to stay in the top eight in the West but with their fifth win in a row tonight, the Predators continue to distance themselves from the Detroit Red Wings (currently in 8th with 83 points) and the Calgary Flames (currently in 9th with 81).

The Kings were also in action on Saturday night and, with their win over the New York Islanders, they retook the 5th place slot, just two hours after Nashville secured it themselves.

Stu Grimson and Willy Daunic speculated on 104.5 The Zone’s post game show that Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz might ride the hot goaltender and start Rinne again tomorrow. In a case of back-to-back games, starting the same netminder in both is almost unheard of. Additionally, if Dan Ellis doesn’t get the start in St. Louis on Sunday, Trotz will really be making a statement. Ellis hasn’t seen any action since allowing six goals in the 8-5 debacle in San Jose on March 11.

The puck drops in St. Louis at 5:00pm Central.

GAME NOTES:
* Captain Jason Arnott hit his head on the boards and received a cut above his left eye after he was slew-footed in the Predators zone in the third period. He did not return and is not expected to play in St. Louis.
* Colin Wilson got an assist on Franson’s game-winning goal, giving the rookie eight points in his last eight games.
* Martin Erat also received an assist on the overtime tally, giving him five points in his last four games and 11 points in the month of March.
* Defenseman Dan Hamhuis was the only Preds player on the ice for the winning goal that didn’t register a point.
* Rinne had three shutouts pre-Olympic break and already has three post-Olympic break.
* Sophomore slump? We think not. Rinne is only two wins and one shutout away from matching his rookie campaign totals (29 and 7, respectively).
* The Blue Jackets are now winless in 14 trips to Nashville. What’s worse? They’ll have to wait until next season to try and break that streak. And no, there is no team that has currently dominated an opponent in one building longer than Nashville has Columbus.