The Nashville Predators won their third straight game, this time beating the Minnesota Wild 4-2 behind a 29 save performance from Pekka Rinne.

Goals by Craig Smith, Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg, and Miikka Salomaki fueled the offense, but this game was won with consistent defense and an excellent performance by Rinne in goal.

Rinne Backs Up A Balanced Attack

To get things started, Craig Smith capitalized on the power play to give Nashville a 1-0 lead in the 1st. The Preds now have power play goals in back-to-back games, which is encouraging.

Matt Dumba, who always plays well against Nashville, scored on a Wild power play later in the period, sending the game into the first intermission at 1-1.

But the Predators came back out fighting in the 2nd period. Literally, Zac Rinaldo fought Matt Hendricks (it wasn’t much of a fight, really) to get the crowd going. Then Mattias Ekholm finished off an odd-man rush to put the Preds up 2-1.

Later in the period, Filip Forsberg made it 3-1 on a breakaway. Kyle Turris had his head up and saw Forsberg in behind the Wild defense. His pass sprung the breakaway and Forsberg capitalized.

This is just unfair.

But Pekka Rinne was the star of this game in the 3rd period, when he had 11 of his 29 saves. With the Wild pressing, he was calm in the net, not allowing many rebounds and cutting down all the angles.

That save on Nino Neiderreiter preserved Nashville’s lead late in the 3rd period.

The start that Rinne has had to this season is very encouraging. With the way last season ended, it’s nice to see that he’s returned to dominance. He’s now 3-1 on the season with a .945 save percentage.

Top Line Continues To Produce

It’s been the best story so far for the Predators’ offense. The top line with Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson have been putting up some goals early in this season and tonight was no exception.

Forsberg, the scorer, had a goal on a breakaway. Johansen, the distributor, finished with two assists. And Arvidsson, the wrecking ball, was everywhere at all times.

When this group gets going, they are hard to stop. No one else on the Preds can dominate in the offensive zone the way this group can. Though they can occasionally disappear for a shift or two, when they are on, they are really on.

If the Nashville Predators are going to continue to make noise this year, it’s going to be because Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg show the rest of the league they can be elite all season.

— Featured image via John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images — 

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