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One more thing: Preds hold control of 4th seed

Last night’s results have put the Predators in the driver’s seat with one game remaining.

The combination of the Predators’ win over Dallas and Detroit’s loss to New Jersey has Barry Trotz’s team in control of its destiny for the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

“I didn’t know the score in Detroit. We were worried about winning the game to see if we could put it back in our court,” Trotz said after the game. “We knew [Detroit] had a real hard game in St. Louis [last night], and we were hoping New Jersey would do us the honors of giving us a chance to get home ice.”

The Predators will now travel to Denver to face a Colorado Avalanche squad that had its playoff hopes squashed last night. It will be the Predators’ chance to grab home-ice advantage for the first time since 2007.

“Tonight we got that extra boost from the fans. If we start at home this building is going to go nuts,” said Pekka Rinne after shutting out Dallas. He then backtracked by saying, “I’ll play wherever and against anybody. It doesn’t matter.”

By beating the Dallas Stars, Rinne and company guaranteed they can’t finish any worse than fifth in the West. All they need is one point on Saturday to wrap up first-round home ice – if Detroit takes care of business at home against Chicago. The Predators will face one of those two division rivals in the first round.

“I’m looking forward to Saturday night and I hope we can get a big win and start at home,” Patric Hornqvist said.

(Later today we’ll take a look at some of positives and negatives of facing Detroit and Chicago…)

***

This and That:

- The Preds finished their regular season home slate with a record of 26-10-5, which is pretty impressive considering they started 4-5-3 in their first 12 home games. Also, the Preds are now 6-1 in home finales of seasons they are a playoff team.

- Francis Bouillon scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period last night. It was Bouillon’s fourth goal in the last 13 games. He potted that many goals in his previous 87 games. Believe it or not, it was Bouillon’s first goal at home since joining the Preds prior to the 2009-10 season.

- The only change to the lineup was Jordin Tootoo filling in for Craig Smith. Tootoo was ineffective in 6:54 of ice-time. This marked the first time this season Matt Halischuk has been scratched in back-to-back games.

- Was it me or were the Stars trying to win that game 1-0? They only had one or two surges to speak of before Bouillon’s goal. After that goal the pearly gates swung wide open for the Stars, whose aggressive play led to numerous chances for the Preds. With their playoff hopes on the line, I expected the Stars to come out like gangbusters.

- The Preds outshot the Stars last night by a 31-28 tally. The Preds now possess a 15-5-4 (.625) record when outshooting the opposition, good enough for the second-best win percentage in the league in those situations.

- Speaking of shots, as last night’s game went along it appeared Kevin Klein was more active than usual. Sure enough, Klein registered a career-high five shots.

- Rinne is now 27-8-4 in his last 39 games after starting the season 16-10-4. He also leads the NHL with 43 wins.

- This was just the second shutout at home, meaning Preds fans can take their ticket stub to Dunkin Donuts today to get their free donut.

- It will be interesting to see whether Rinne or Anders Lindback starts on Saturday. Rinne was in top form against Dallas. But if the Preds clinch the 4th seed with a Detroit loses Saturday afternoon, does Trotz turn to Lindback and give Rinne another night off?

***

Smashville 24/7 3 stars of the night:
1. Pekka Rinne (28 saves, shutout)
2. Patric Hornqvist (1 goal, 1 assist)
3. Francis Bouillon (1 goal)

Recaps around the blogosphere:

Preds On The Glass Inside Smashville Section 303
Puck Scene Hockey Night in Nashville On The Forecheck

***

Decibel Level Chart:
How loud was it in Smashville last night? Find out here…

Decibels (dB) Play
108 (dB) Preds come onto the ice
110 Francis Bouillon 3rd period goal
102 TV timeout ovation
104 Red Wings score revealed
110 Patric Hornqvist 3rd period goal
108 Predators win, 2-0
 
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