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Predators' Pekka Rinne might return to face Oilers

By Bucky Dent, The Sports Xchange
Predators' Pekka Rinne might return to face Oilers
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne of Finland, skates to his bench during a time out in the first period against the St. Louis Blues on December 27 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Pekka Rinne could come off injured reserve Saturday, just in time for a date with the team he loves to face.

Out the last three games with a leg injury suffered in the third period of a 5-3 win Oct. 19 at Calgary, Rinne could return to the Nashville Predators' goal for a matinee date with the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

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If so, Rinne will try to extend a personal 11-game winning streak against Edmonton that started on October 29, 2014, with a 4-1 win at Rexall Place in Edmonton. That was also the start of Nashville's current 12-game winning streak against the Oilers.

"I don't foresee this going that long," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said to The Tennessean of Rinne's injury.

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Should Rinne (3-1-0, 2.10 goals-against average, .929 save percentage) not be able to make the start, Juuse Saros will make his fourth straight appearance. Edmonton wouldn't exactly receive a break with Saros (5-1-0, 2.47, .918) between the pipes, as he blanked the Oilers 3-0 last Saturday in Alberta, stopping 31 shots for his fifth career shutout in only 48 starts.

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Saros came up with 33 saves Thursday when Nashville (8-2-0) rallied for a 4-3 overtime win at New Jersey to maintain the NHL's best record. A struggling power play produced the tying goal in the third period on Filip Forsberg's snapper from the left circle.

Kyle Turris took care of matters himself in the extra frame, going end-to-end and whipping a wrister past Keith Kinkaid at 3:35 for his second goal of the season.

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"I love it," Turris said of playing in overtime's 3-on-3 format. "3-on-3 is a lot of fun. You can be creative and use speed, and I really enjoy it."

The Predators' top line of Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson enjoyed another night on ice. They accounted for two more goals, giving them 16 of the team's 35 through 10 games. They have teamed up for 31 points so far.

Meanwhile, the Oilers (4-3-1) were playing perhaps their best game of the young season Thursday night, drilling Stanley Cup champion Washington 4-1 at Rogers Place without needing the usual big night from Connor McDavid.

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He didn't score until finding an empty net at 18:43 of the third period, but Edmonton got markers from rookie Evan Bouchard, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson. The Oilers played one of their most detailed games in a while, taking just one minor penalty and blocking 25 shots in front of goalie Cam Talbot, who saved 31 of the 32 that got to him.

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The goal was particularly special for Chiasson, who received his Stanley Cup ring from the Capitals prior to the game.

"Trying to move away from this morning and the past and to focus on the game ... it couldn't have been a better outcome," he said.

Edmonton coach Todd McLellan said Friday that Talbot will get his first game off this season on Saturday. Thirty-year old backup Mikko Koskinen will make his first NHL appearance since the 2010-2011 season, when he went 2-1-0 in four starts for the New York Islanders with a 4.33 goals-against average and .873 save percentage.

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