Thursday, April 5, 2012

Preds leapfrog Detroit with win over Dallas

The Nashville Predators defeated the Dallas Stars by a 2-0 score on Thursday night, which guarantees they will finish no worse than fifth going into the playoffs. If the Predators get at least a point on Saturday in Colorado, they will secure the fourth spot and home ice advantage for the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Pekka Rinne made 28 saves in his fifth shutout effort of the year. Nashville's defense did a good job of limiting the quality scoring chances for the Stars throughout the majority of the night, but Rinne made big saves when called upon to get an important two points for his team.

After a scoreless game through the first two periods, Francis Bouillon broke the tie at 4:28 of the third period on a big scrum in front of the Dallas net. Patric Hornqvist had the original shot on goal and Bouillon was able to backhand the puck past Kari Lehtonen for the goal. It was Bouillon's fourth goal in the last thirteen games. Before that span, he hadn't scored a goal for the Predators all season.

"He's finding the net now at the right time so it's great for him. It's always nice to see him get something," Predators defenseman Kevin Klein said.

After Rinne made several keys saves on a furious push by the Stars in the Nashville end, Hornqvist gave the Predators a 2-0 lead when he scored on the rebound of a Brandon Yip shot. That goal was the dagger for the Stars, who were eliminated from playoff contention with the 2-0 loss to the Predators on Thursday night.

With Detroit losing to the New Jersey Devils by a 2-1 score in regulation, the Nashville Predators control their destiny for home ice in the first round of the playoffs. If the Chicago Blackhawks are able to defeat the Red Wings in either regulation or overtime on Saturday they will pass Detroit for fifth place in the Western Conference. If not, Nashville will face the Red Wings. The Predators need just one point to clinch home ice advantage regardless of who wins in Detroit on Saturday.

"We're looking forward to that. Hopefully the boys can bring the same effort. We definitely want fourth. Obviously, we can use our home fans. They're great. Hopefully we can get that done," Klein said.

Thursday night's game marked the 25th sellout of the regular season for the Predators. It's a franchise record, and it shows just how much the game of hockey continues to grow in the Nashville area.

"They've been fantastic supporting us throughout the community. We've got lots of faces out there like (Ryan Suter) and (Shea Weber) getting out in the community and making a difference, so it's nice to see the fans supporting us," Klein said.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Francis Bouillon(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
2. Francis Bouillon(NSH)
3. Patric Hornqvist(NSH)

Follow Hockey Night in Nashville on Twitter: @hockeynightNSH

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