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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

Predators.

"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.

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

circle.

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

season.

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."

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