The Predators successfully challenged and overturned a Mark Letestu game-tying goal in the final minutes of the third period as they edged out the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 headed into their league-mandated bye week.
As Pekka Rinne said, the team has complete trust in the guys behind the monitors.
“He must have a surgeon’s eyes to see when the skate is up,” Rinne said.
Upon video review, the official determined that Edmonton forward Jujhar Khaira was offside when the Oilers entered the offensive zone prior to the goal. Khaira’s back skate was off the ice by the slimmest of margins with his front skate over the blue line.
JK. The call on the ice has been reversed due to a coach's challenge for offsides! pic.twitter.com/ydmnqtiEtc
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) January 10, 2018
That kind of challenge takes guts, especially when the consequence for a failed offsides challenge is a power play for the opponent.
“I feel like now is a good time to talk about Lawrence, he doesn’t get enough credit,” Rinne said. “He’s the hardest-working guy in this organization. Those things, when we get those breaks, that’s all Lawrence. We are happy to have him.”
That review only became so important because Rinne himself had himself some clutch saves throughout, including a first-period glove save on a Connor McDavid breakaway. With the Predators up 2-0, McDavid split the defense and had a clear path to the net, but Rinne was able to flash the leather and make the stop.
Rinne has faced plenty of sharpshooters and players with finesse, but McDavid is a completely different specimen.
“You just try to react, but you try to outwait him and see what he’s going to do,” he said. “A guy with his talent, it’s hard. In the second period, he kind of got that half-breakaway and he was able to beat me. Again, I tried to outwait him and he just put it through me. He’s such a quick guy with great hands, so you just try to do your best to not make a first move and try to outwait him, but it’s hard.”
At certain times throughout the game, third-pairing defensemen Yannick Weber and Alexei Emelin were on the ice facing McDavid. Obviously, the Predators would probably like to have one of their top pairings on the ice when a player of his caliber is out there, but according to head coach Peter Laviolette, they aren’t too concerned with match-ups.
They have the luxury of being comfortable with any match-up, anytime.
“We trust all of our players,” Laviolette said. “We try for matchups, most teams do. We try not to run guys off the ice and scramble just because there’s some matchup on the ice. We think we’ve got good depth and good balance and smart players and we count on them to do their job and do it well.”
“Emelin and Weber are terrific players. If they get out there, it’s not something that we’re scrambling on the bench. It’s the same with our forward lines. It would be great if we could get who we want out there. If we don’t, we’re not going to have them running to the bench just to try and scramble off.”
Now, the Predators will enter their league-mandated bye week on a two-game winning streak, having knocked off the Los Angeles Kings over the weekend. They’re right in the thick of things in the Central Division, sitting just three points out of first place with multiple games in hand in Winnipeg and St. Louis. In addition, they’re a safe eight-points away from the playoff cutoff.
Of course, for Nashville, it felt much better to go into the bye with a notch in the W column.
“Losing sucks, man,” said Craig Smith with a smile.
The Predators will emerge from the bye week with their final meeting of the year with the Vegas Golden Knights at Bridgestone Arena next Tuesday.