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Rinne makes 33 saves, Blum makes 1, in Preds victory…

Things haven’t been going well for the Nashville Predators. In their last four games, they’ve scored an underwhelming six goals and, what’s worse, appeared to have phoned it in effort wise.

In a special matinée tilt with the Calgary Flames, the Predators won a 2-0 decision on just 14 shots on goal. It’s Nashville’s first win since October 8.

The lone Predator playing his tail off this season, Pekka Rinne, made 33 stops in the shutout victory. He’s now 3-3-1 on the young season, none of the losses being his fault. It was also his 21st career shutout, tying him with Tomas Vokoun for most on the all-time franchise list.

Rinne wasn’t the only one stopping pucks for the Preds, however. In the third period, rookie defenseman Jon Blum saw that his goaltender was out of position trying to cut down an angle. The pass got through, however, and Olli Jokinen was looking at an empty net while standing at the far post. Blum dove, shoving his stick into the back of the twine for stability, and deflected Jokinen’s shot out of danger.

The “save” came at a critical moment as well. The Preds were leading 1-0 with just 11:00 left in regulation. Given all that’s happened in the past four games (poor efforts, two blown third period leads, etc.), if the Flames tie it up, there’s no telling what they do with that momentum in front of their hometown fans. Instead, Blum kept the game in the Predators’ hands.

Fellow rookie Craig Smith would break in two-on-one with Sergei Kostitsyn just four minutes later and bag the insurance marker. But it was the save by Blum that gave Nashville the change to put the game away.

The Predators will finally return to the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena next week as they start a three-game home stand against the San Jose Sharks, the Tampa Bay Lightning and the team they knocked out of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Finals, the Anaheim Ducks.

Puck drops on those games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 7:00pm.

* Coming into the day, Rinne had never beaten the Flames. He was 0-4-2 against Calgary all-time.
* Niclas Bergfors scored his first goal as a Predator. The assists went to Jack Hillen and Brian McGrattan, their first points as a Predator.
* Kostitsyn’s next goal will be his 50th in the NHL.
* Speaking of Kostitsyn, the only game he has not recorded a point in this season was Thursday’s 5-1 loss in Vancouver.
* This is the first Predators win of the season that saw them score less than three goals.
* Despite being held pointless and registering a minus-1, Flames captain Jerome Iginla was voted second star by the Calgary media.
* The Predators mustered just three shots on goal in the first period and then an embarrassing two in the third.

1) Pekka Rinne (NSH)
2) Jerome Iginla (CGY)
3) Ryan Suter (NSH)

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //