That was not the story of the game, though. Smashville and all its fans held their collective breath as All-Star goaltender Pekka Riine was injured early in the third period.
Rinne was driven into the end boards after he came out to block a shot and was caught in the tangle of Anton Volchenkov and Chris Higgins at 2:55 of the third period.
Rinne did not look to be seriously injured and stretched a bit on the ice before leaving the game for Carter Hutton. Hutton stopped all 10 shots he faced.
The Predators used a strong first period and an overwhelming third period to capture the win.
Craig Smith opened the scoring with the Predators on the power play. he took a pass from Colin Wilson in the low slot and beat Canucks netminder Eddie Lack top shelf to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
Colin Wilson made it 2-0 with a snipe over the shoulder of lack on an absolutely well placed shot.
Vancouver owned the second period as the pushed the Predators back in their zone and were able to cut the lead to 2-1 at 2:47 of the second period as Alex Edler whipped a shot past Rinne. On the play, Rinne was under assault and made 4 saves on the Canucks attack before Edler got the puck past him.
After Rinne left the game, the Predators found another gear and swarmed the Canucks.
Filip Forsberg tallied his 15th goal of the season when his wrist shot hit Lack and trickled over the goal line.
Mike Fisher scored a sweet goal as James Neal fired a pass of the boards toward the net. Fisher was streaking down the slot and got his stick on the pass and shovled the puck past Lack.
Wilson recorded his second goal of the game on the power play at 17:39.
- A big stick tap to Carter Hutton. He entered the game with the Predators clinging to a 2-1 lead and was tested early. He made some good saves and stopped all 10 shots he faced in the remainder of the period. Hutton looked confident in net and moved well, and hopefully this will be a big confidence builder for him.
- James Neal returned to the line up after missing five games. He had a strong game playing on the second line and picked up 2 assists tonight.
- Mike Ribeiro was outstanding tonight. He has such good vision on the ice and distributes the puck well. he picked up 3 assists in 19:11 of ice time.
- Colin Wilson continues to play at an elite elite level. He had an assist and a goal tonight, and his goal was a thing of beauty. he placed a shot from the face off circle over the shoulder of Lack and inside the far post. Wilson is strong on the puck and has done a great job of driving puck possession for the team. He has taken the next step in his game by utilizing his ability to make plays in the offensive zone and his shot is excellent. Wilson has a 4 game point streak and has been integral to the Predators success this season. Consider this: Wilson had 5 points in his first 15 games this season. He has 25 points in his last 25 games. Don't underestimate the contribution of Wilson to this team's success and strong play of late.
- Speaking of contributing to the success of the team, Mike Fisher has 14 points (8G-6A) in his last 15 games. having Fisher back in the line up has given the team a solid second line center that is strong in all zones and has contributed consistently to the offensive effort.
- Rinne was the goalie of record, leaving the game with a 2-1 lead. His win tonight gives him a league leading 29 wins.
- The Predators power play was 2-6 on the night. Craig Smith scored both power play goals. The man advantage unit showed much better movement without the puck and worked to open areas for good shots. This effort has to continue.
- How about the home ice advantage? The Predators are 17-2-1 at Bridgestone Arena.
Now we wait and see about the health of Pekka Rinne.
The collective fingers of Smashville are crossed.
My three stars:
1. Colin Wilson
2. Craig Smith
3. Mike Fisher