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Rinne spectacular but gets little offensive support in loss…

With a win, the Nashville Predators would overtake the Detroit Red Wings for fourth place in the Western Conference. Anything less and they would have squandered a golden opportunity.

Consider the opportunity squandered.

With 17,562 looking on inside HP Pavilion in San Jose, the Preds dropped a tough 2-1 decision in a shootout.

The shootout loss was in no way, shape or form the fault of Pekka Rinne. The Preds netminder collected 34 saves and even turned aside two of San Jose’s three chances in the shootout. The loss gives him a record of 39-14-8 on the year.

In the opening frame, Patric Hornqvist registered his team leading 22nd goal of the season when Mike Fisher gave him a no-look pass. Hornqvist received the puck, spun to the front of the net and put it past Sharks netminder Antti Niemi for the early lead.

It took them 29 shots but the Sharks finally solved Rinne in the third period. Dan Boyle took a shot from the blueline and the puck caromed off of Patrick Marleau‘s skate in front of Rinne. It came right to Joe Thornton‘s tape and, while staring at a wide-open net, wristed it into the twine to tie the game and send this one to overtime.

Rinne, who had been outstanding tonight, couldn’t do it all by himself as he got zero offensive support in the shootout. Sharks winger Ryan Clowe edged a puck past Rinne in the final round of the skills competition and David Legwand couldn’t respond, giving the host team the victory.

The Predators will turn their attention to another Western Conference bubble team, the Los Angeles Kings, on Saturday night.

Puck drops at 9:30pm Central.

PHOTO CREDIT: Carrie Rashford // special to (used with permission)