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Granlund Gets Winner, Rinne Stars in Dallas as Preds Take Series Lead

Pekka Rinne

Rocco Grimaldi started it, Filip Forsberg continued it, Mikael Granlund clinched it and Pekka Rinne saved the night.

Three goals and the save of the series led the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 3 on Monday night. The result gives the Preds consecutive wins and a 2-1 lead in Round One.

The Predators say Game 3 didn’t showcase their best – Dallas outshot Nashville by a 42-28 margin and came back from a 2-0 deficit, but Rinne stopped 40 on the night, and Granlund’s seeing-eye shot found a way to steal one in Texas.

“It’s huge,” Granlund said of the win. “I’m sure we can play better, and we maybe didn’t get our best tonight, but we still got the win and that’s the main thing.”

“At the end of the day, all in all we played really well defensively,” Rinne said. “We blocked a lot of shots and the rebounds I gave up they didn’t really end up on their stick, so it was a good night like that.”

The first period was fast, physical and full of chances, the majority of which belonged to the Predators, but neither team had anything to show for it on the scoreboard. In the middle frame, that all changed.

Just as he did in Game 2, Grimaldi scored the first goal for the Predators when a seemingly harmless wrister from the right side found its way past Ben Bishop for a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after Rinne and the Preds killed a one minute, 29-second 5-on-3 advantage for the Stars, Nick Bonino lifted a puck into the atmosphere, and Forsberg was waiting on the other end. The Nashville winger then drove to the net and neatly deposited his first of the series to give his club their first multi-goal lead against the Stars in Round One.

However, before the second stanza was out, Mats Zuccarello beat Rinne on a partial break, and that led to Tyler Seguin tying the game at 8:15 of the third.

Just moments later, Dallas almost took the lead, but Rinne committed grand larceny on Stars Captain Jamie Benn on the doorstep by kicking out his pad to take away what was sure to be another goal.

“Flat out, he probably stole the game for us,” Grimaldi said of Rinne. “It definitely wasn’t our best performance. We’re obviously happy to get the win, but just thinking about some of the saves that he made, the one on Benn late in the third, I thought it was a goal for sure. I don’t know how he did it.

“They kind of took it to us in spurts in the second and third and we were on our heels, but a win’s a win and we’ll take it any way we can get it.”

Just moments after that, Granlund threw a puck at the net that eluded Bishop for what turned out to be the game-winner, while RInne and his mates held the Stars off the board for the rest of the night.

“It’s always nice to score, but that was a big one,” Granlund said of his second overall goal as a member of the Preds. “You just try to go out there and work hard and you have to believe they’re going to come sooner or later, and it was fun to have one tonight.”

On a night that carried a few storylines, Rinne seemed to garner the most attention, especially thanks to what equated to a game-saving stop in the third. It was a classic postseason performance from the netminder, no surprise to the rest of the Preds.

“He was terrific all night, and he played a heck of a game,” Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of RInne. “That save was big, but for me it resembles his whole night.”

Throughout the season, and especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it really doesn’t matter how the wins come, they just have to be there.

It was a complete team effort on Monday night in Dallas, and now the Predators have a chance to go home with a commanding lead in the series – but, as Rinne cautioned, let’s not think too far ahead.

“You don’t want to go too far ahead of yourself,” Rinne said. “It’s a slippery road in the playoffs… It’s a huge win for us after going down in Game 1, but I don’t want to talk about momentum or anything like that because it’s such a dangerous thing. You lose that grip right away when you start thinking about it, so I think we have to prepare for Game 4 like it’s Game 1 or Game 7.”

“We had some self-inflicted wounds out there,” Laviolette said “There’s things I think we can do better, so we’ll take a look at that and prepare ourselves for Game 4.”

Notes:

Prior to Game 3, the Predators announced forwards Wayne Simmonds (lower-body) and Brian Boyle (appendix procedure) are both week-to-week due to their respective injuries.

As a result, Grimaldi remained in the lineup, and forward Miikka Salomaki dressed for the Preds for the first time since being injured back on Jan. 4.

In addition to Boyle and Simmonds, Yannick Weber, Rem Pitlick, Zac Rinaldo, Matt Irwin, Cody McLeod, Frederick Gaudreau and Niclas Westerholm were scratched for Nashville in Game 3.

Game 4 comes on Wednesday night in Dallas at 7 p.m. (CT) before the series shifts back to Nashville for Game 5 which will come on Saturday at Bridgestone Arena, time to be determined.