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No Vezina showdown in Nashville; Preds win in OT…

Well, it wasn’t the Vezina Trophy showdown we were hoping for but it provided something thrilling for the fans nonetheless.

Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators battled Tuukka Rask (not fellow candidate Tim Thomas) and the Boston Bruins in front of 16,839 at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators would use Shea Weber‘s overtime power play marker to net the game winner. It’s Nashville’s first overtime goal of the season.

It only took 71 games to get one.

Rinne finished with 35 saves, more than a few keeping the game within reach, while his fellow countryman Rask managed just 27.

The Predators got goals from Sergei Kostitsyn, Colin Wilson, David Legwand and Weber in the victory.

Less than 2:00 into the contest, the Predators failed to get the puck deep — or even over the red line — and rookie Tyler Seguin made them pay. He wristed a shot over Rinne’s glove hand and tucked it under the bar for the early 1-0 lead.

Kostitsyn answered for the Predators just a few minutes later, scoring his first goal since February 19. On a mad scramble in front of Rask, Kostitsyn picked up a rebound and tied the game at one.

In a moment of controversy, at the end of the opening frame, Patric Hornqvist was given a 5:00 major and a 10:00 game misconduct for “elbowing” Seguin. Not only would a minor penalty had been iffy, but Ryan Suter was clearly tripped just moments earlier while trying to carry the puck out from behind the Preds net but there was no call. So, to have that obvious missed call happen on the heels of a terrible blown call against the Preds, Bridgestone Arena was not happy. Never the less, Boston would head into the locker room tied at one and with 2:30 worth of power play time waiting for them in the second.

After killing off the Hornqvist major, but then squandering a 5-on-3 power play of their own, the Preds finally took the 2-1 lead when Wilson skated into the Boston zone and put a simple, routine shot on net that Rask let get by him. Some say it knuckled in while others say he just flat out misplayed it but, either way, it was 2-1, Nashville.

Until moments later, anyway. Rinne tried to kick out a huge rebound but it went right to David Krecji who made no mistake and tallied his 12th goal of the year knotting the game at two.

Patrice Bergeron got the go-ahead goal for the B’s with he evaded rookie blueliner Jon Blum in the slot and fired a shot past Rinne.

Martin Erat, after his penalty expired, jumped out of the box and went on the breakaway only to have his shot saved by Rask. Kostitsyn was trailing the play and banged at the rebound but that was saved by Rask. Legwand’s follow-up shot, however, would not be saved and the Predators tied the game, 3-3.

In the overtime session, Preds center Mike Fisher got tackled after a nice move, drawing a holding penalty. Nashville would have the rare OT man advantage and register their first overtime win of the 2010-11 season on a Weber bomb.

With the goal, Weber became the all-time Predators leading goal scorer among defenseman, passing former captain Kimmo Timonen‘s old mark of 79. With only two more, he’ll pass Cliff Ronning for 9th on the franchise’s all-time goal scoring list.

(That’s right. A Kimmo Timonen and a Cliff Ronning mention in the same blog post. You know how we do.)

Next up for the Predators are the mighty Detroit Red Wings. The Wings lead the Central Division and, unlike a month ago, look to be unchallenged for the division crown once again. It was once believed Saturday’s contest would be important in deciding the Central but, now, it’s just important for the Predators’ playoff lives period.

Puck drops at 7:05pm Central.

* Nashville was 273 tickets away from their 13th sellout of the season.
* The Predators are now 2-0-0 when taking pre-game skate in special St. Patrick’s Day jersey’s.
* Joel Ward, who’s been on fire (five points in his last three games), missed his second straight game with an injury.
* As much as he was due credit on creating that overtime power play opportunity, Fisher still hasn’t scored a goal since February 17 and hasn’t even appeared on the scoresheet in the month of March.
* Wilson has now played his hometown Boston Bruins twice and scored twice.
* The Predators are now 5-0-0 this season when a TV timeout standing ovation takes place.

MY THREE STARS (as voted on with 8:57 remaining in regulation):
1) Tyler Seguin (BOS)
2) Pekka Rinne (NSH)
3) Colin Wilson (NSH)

1) Shea Weber (NSH)
2) Colin Wilson (NSH)
3) Patrice Bergeron (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //

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