Ducks sit atop NHL after spoiling Rinne’s return

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Pekka Rinne is a big part of the reason the Predators have been one of the NHL’s best teams this season, but he couldn’t save them in his return from a knee injury as Nashville suffered a 5-2 loss to Anaheim last night.

The Predators goaltender showed his rust early when he bungled a rebound attempt that led to Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg scoring a shorthanded goal just 3:08 minutes into the contest.

“It wasn’t a great start,” Rinne said, per the Predators’ website. “Obviously, right away I put us behind the eight ball. Originally, I probably felt a little rusty, but after that start, I felt all right. A few unlucky bounces and a couple of tips; not the way that you want to start.”

He finished with 21 saves on 25 shots. At the other end of the ice, Anaheim netminder Frederik Andersen turned aside an incredible 44 of 46 shots.

With that, Anaheim has now claimed eight of its last 10 games to improve to 34-12-6. That gives the Ducks a two-point edge over Nashville and puts them atop the NHL’s standings. Outside of Nashville, Anaheim also has fierce competition for the Presidents’ Trophy in St. Louis and Tampa Bay. That being said, even if the Ducks are successful in finishing with the best record in the NHL, they will still be judged almost exclusively on their playoff performance.

After all, the Ducks have had some great regular seasons over the last couple of years. They just need to demonstrate that they’re ready to carry that into the playoffs.

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