Rinne shines as Predators edge Oilers

EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) — Rookie goaltender Pekka Rinne
proved he is a morning person.

Playing in his first career afternoon game, Rinne made 32 saves
and preserved an early lead as the Nashville Predators posted a
2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

J.P. Dumont and Martin Erat each tallied for the Predators, who
had lost four of five and improved to 3-8-1 on the road since a
6-3 setback against the St. Louis Blues on December 8.

“It’s my first NHL afternoon game,” said Rinne, who also claimed
his woke up at 7:30 a.m. “It’s a little different, but I guess
I like it. I felt good, everybody, I felt like everybody liked
it. It’s kind of different, you get up early and have a little
practice and come to the rink and play the game. After that you
have the whole day, you’re done.

“It’s pretty nice – especially when you win.”

Ales Hemsky scored a third-period goal for Edmonton, which lost
for just the second time in six contests.

“We really have to work on being more consistent,” Oilers
defenseman Tom Gilbert said. “We don’t want to fall back into
the habit of winning one, losing one; going back and forth when
you are trying to catch teams for a playoff run. We have to get
back on the same page again.”

Dwayne Roloson, who finished with 27 saves for Edmonton, entered
with a 2.53 goals-against average in winning eight of his last
11 home starts. His struggles against Nashville continued,
though, by falling to 3-12-0 in 17 career matchups with the

“Everyone is professional enough to get themselves ready,”
Oilers center Kyle Brodziak said. “For some reason, we just
didn’t do a good job of that today. It was a game we had to
have and we blew it.”

The starter for the Rookies in the YoungStars Game as part of
All-Star Weekend in Montreal, the 26-year-old Rinne did most of
his work in the first 40 minutes of play by stopping all 24
attempts he faced.

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Rinne had surrendered three goals or more in four of his
previous five outings, and last gave up fewer than two goals in
a 2-0 triumph over the Toronto Maple Leafs on January 13.

“He has been really solid for us,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz
said. “I thought our penalty killers did a really good job.
I’ve been watching our penalty kill the last little while and
it’s been really dangerous. I thought our penalty kill was huge
for us at the end of the game.”

Dumont opened the scoring with 7:56 remaining in the middle
session, firing a wrist shot past Roloson from the right faceoff

Erat doubled the advantage 8:35 into the third by converting
passes from David Legwand and Ryan Jones with a backhander in
front of the net.

Hemsky cut the deficit in half 64 seconds later when he blasted
a slap shot from the left circle to notch his 16th tally of the

The 25-year-old has six goals and two assists in five contests
since returning from a 10-game absence due to a concussion.

“A big win, we got a little nervous at the end,” Trotz said.
“We could have gone up 3-1, we had a chance but Marty Erat
missed (the empty-netter) from center ice, that would have been
a lot nicer, but we got the two points, bottom line and that’s
what we came for.”

Edmonton concludes its six-game homestand on Tuesday against the
Chicago Blackhawks and then embarks on a three-game road trip.

“We have to take the responsibility of taking care of our own
business,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We haven’t done
that for a few years here. When you have a game like that where
you can drive the nail in, you have to get that game. One thing
you want to show in a game like that is the intensity.”