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Prototypical Predators lead the way in win over Jets…

When you think of prototypical Nashville Predator players you think of guys like Matt Halischuk, Gabriel Bourque and the recently-departed Jerred Smithson. Guys that will do anything and everything to help their team win, never taking a shift off and always paying attention to the little details that are often overlooked.

On the back of Halischuk and Bourque, the Preds beat the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1 on Saturday night.

In front of yet another sell out crowd inside Bridgestone Arena, Nashville guaranteed themselves fifth place in the Western Conference standing for at least one more day.

In his fifth opportunity to do so, Pekka Rinne finally registered his 40th win of the season. The Predators goaltender turned aside 24 of 25 Jets shots and was named the first star of the game for his efforts. He is now 40-16-8 on the season, forcing himself into the Vezina Trophy argument.

Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec may have been on the losing end of the decision but he was outstanding. Many of his 25 saves were of the amazing variety, truly giving his team a chance to win. It would all be for not as he fell to 28-26-7 on the year.

“I thought Pavelec played great,” Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “He made some outstanding saves tonight, especially when we had a little bit of a lead. That’s what good goaltenders do and he’s one of the good one’s in the league.”

While rushing up ice early in the second period, Alexander Radulov was attracting all the attention. Realizing this, he fed a no-look pass to Halischuk who broke into the zone and fired one past Pavelec for the 1-0 lead. Halischuk, who had been scratched on Thursday night, now has 13 goals on the season.

“That’s why I scratch him,” Trotz joked. “I know that every time I put him back in, he’s going to score.”

Midway through the contest, the Preds would extend their lead. Bourque tipped a Nick Spaling shot from the high slot, sliding the puck through Pavelec’s pads for the 2-0 lead.

Winnipeg would make things interesting in the final frame when Tim Stapleton broke Rinne’s shutout bid but Shea Weber would add an empty netter in order to seal the deal for Nashville.

The Predators will now fly to Chicago for a tilt against the Blackhawks on Sunday night. With a Nashville victory, not only will they keep Chicago in sixth place for a while longer but they’ll also leapfrog the Detroit Red Wings, who are idle, for fourth in the West. Furthermore, Sunday night starts Nashville’s “hell week.” The Preds will play 6th place Chicago on Sunday, the 1st place St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the 4th place Red Wings on Friday and then the Blackhawks again next Saturday. And if that wasn’t brutal enough, all but the second Chicago game are on the road.

Puck will drop at 6:30pm Central in order to accommodate NBC Sports Network.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //