Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne(notes) has put the Predators in good position to win each of their first three games against the Calgary Flames this season, but it still hasn’t been enough to get a victory.
The play of his counterpart has been a big reason why.
Rinne and Kiprusoff have helped lead Nashville and Calgary (34-24-9) into the crowded Western Conference playoff race, and both are coming off impressive performances.
Kiprusoff denied Columbus’ Matt Calvert(notes) and Antoine Vermette(notes) on penalty shots in Friday’s 4-3 victory, becoming the first goalie to turn aside two penalty shots in an NHL game since Detroit’s Corrado Micalef on Feb. 16, 1986.
Kiprusoff finished with 37 saves, improving to 13-2-3 with a 2.01 goals-against average since his last day off.
Kiprusoff has also been a big part of Calgary’s success against the Predators (33-23-9).
The Flames, who swept the four-game series from Nashville in 2008-09, have won 12 of the 16 meetings since March 22, 2007, with Kiprusoff in net each time, posting a 2.09 GAA and two shutouts.
In the three games against the Predators this season, Kiprusoff has stopped 82 of 85 shots while recording a shutout and outplaying Rinne, who has allowed six Flames goals on 90 shots.
Jarome Iginla(notes) has one of those goals for Calgary, and scored his team-leading 29th goal Friday. The Flames captain has four goals and three assists during a three-game point streak, and is on the brink of becoming the 10th NHL player to score at least 30 goals in 10 seasons.
With Kiprusoff racking up wins against Nashville, Rinne has been on the losing end of his last five starts in the series despite posting a 2.58 GAA.
Similar to what he’s experiencing against the Flames, Rinne has been giving the Predators plenty of opportunities to win lately, but they haven’t often been taking advantage.
Rinne, who has made 13 consecutive starts, stopped 29 shots in Thursday’s 3-0 win over NHL-best Vancouver, the fourth time in five games he allowed two goals or fewer. Despite having a 1.59 GAA over this stretch, Rinne has lost three times, as his offense has provided him with three total goals in those defeats.
Hornqvist scored his team-leading 18th goal Friday, but it was just his second in 14 games. Wilson, third on the team with 14 goals, has found the back of the net just twice in his last 18 contests.
The Predators have two wins in their last seven games, and are feeling urgency to make up ground in the race for a playoff spot.
“It already feels like the playoffs for us,” Rinne said.