DALLAS — Pekka Rinne had just made a save on Alexander Radulov when the Nashville Predators goalie pushed over to the left post to get a kick save on Jamie Benn‘s shot, leaving the two Dallas Stars forwards frustrated.
The save came about 31 seconds after Stars forward Tyler Seguin tied the game on a similar shot. It was one of 40 Rinne made to help the Predators defeat the Stars 3-2 in Game 3 of the Western Conference First Round at American Airlines Center on Monday.
“Yeah, he’s a pretty good goalie,” Predators forward Mikael Granlund said with a smile.
The Predators lead the best-of-7 series 2-1; Game 4 is in Dallas on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; USA, SN, TVAS2, FS-SW, FS-TN).
Rinne has been solid throughout the first round but he was outstanding in Game 3, saving 40 of 42 shots, including five saves when the Stars had 90 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play in the second period.
“They have some talented players over there,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s some chemistry that goes with it. Anytime you go on the 5-on-3 you’re going to take some heat. You’re going to need saves, and we got those from Pekka. The penalty kill was good, but that was a point where things could have gone differently. But our penalty kill stood tall and Pekka did as well.”
Rinne said, “[the Stars] forecheck hard and at the same time, when they turn pucks over, they try to get them to the net and have people in front of me. It was a little chippy out there, lots of power play time for them and they got a bunch of shots during their power plays. But all in all, I still think we played well defensively.”
As Rinne flourished, Stars goalie Ben Bishop had, what would be considered for him, a tough night in allowing three goals on 28 shots. Bishop allowed three goals in a game for the first time since Feb. 4, when he allowed four in a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.
Grandlund’s first goal of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was the game-winner, a shot from just inside the blue line that got through Bishop. But it was the first goal by Predators forward Rocco Grimaldi, who beat him on a tough angle to give the Predators a 1-0 lead 3:29 into the second period, that Bishop said was “a bad goal.”
“Not one you want to let up,” Bishop said. “I just was going to go punch it out and then I was going to corral it and kind of caught the inside of the hand and went in. But at the same time, you’ve just got to get over it. It’s not the first bad goal I’ve given up in the playoffs and probably won’t be the last one. Just bounce back.”
Predators forward Filip Forsberg, who scored his first goal of the playoffs after getting around Stars defenseman Roman Polak, didn’t think Bishop was having an off night.
“I think he was playing well tonight too,” Forsberg said. “He’s a really good goalie, and it’s going to be another challenge on Wednesday.”
Mats Zuccarello woke the Stars up when he broke free of Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis and scored to cut Nashville’s lead to 2-1 at 17:11 of the second period. Tyler Seguin tied it 2-2 at 8:15 of the second period, before Rinne denied Benn a few seconds later.
The Predators know they didn’t play their best in Game 3. Rinne certainly did, but the Predators want to give him more help in Game 4.
“We can’t afford to fall asleep like that again,” Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said. “Their big players, they loaded up that line and they just kept coming. We have to find ways to make sure we get pucks out. The ice was tough today, it was bouncing, but they’re playing on the same ice and they seemed to get every puck deep. We’ll look at the tape tomorrow, and that’ll be an area of improvement for us we want to have for the next game.”