Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said the decision would be his on whether Pekka Rinne would start in goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Saturday against Pittsburgh at Bridgestone Arena.
Laviolette was asked for the second straight day whether Rinne or Juuse Saros would start against the Penguins.
Rinne was pulled after Evgeni Malkin’s goal 3:28 into the third period, the Penguins second goal in just 15 seconds.
“As I said on the first day when we talked about (Mike) Fisher and (Colin) Wilson, which had nothing to do with the goaltender, we don’t talk about lineup decisions. That was what I said (Thursday). I said nothing about a goaltender. I said we don’t talk about lineup decision,” said Laviolette after Friday’s practice.
“To be polite and answer your question again, we don’t talk about lineup decisions.”
Saros saw his first playoff action and stopped both shots he faced the final 16:32 of the game.
Rinne had been outstanding in series victories over Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim, but seems to have struggled in the first two games in Pittsburgh.
The all-star goalie allowed four goals in each game from 36 shots, a save percentage of .778. He entered the series with a .941 save percentage.
“Pekka has been terrific through this entire playoffs,” Laviolette said after Game 2. “There’s things that we could have done. All three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes.”
Rinne, the three-time Vezina Trophy finalist for best goalie in the league, has allowed only 13 goals in eight home playoff games.
He told reporters on Friday he knows who is starting in net for the Predators.
"I'm going to keep it a secret, I guess," Rinne said.
“It’s not his fault by any means,” Nashville captain Mike Fisher told the Associated Press on Thursday. “We know we can do a better job in front of him. It’s a team game, and everyone looks at shots and save percentage but forget about the quality and who we’re playing. And certain parts of the game where we got to help him out.”
Rinne feels the two-day break between games has helped. He's also expecting a big boost from the home crowd.
"I feel like this postseason there's been time, a lot of games when we've been down and have come back from behind in the third period, and I feel like a lot of it is credit to our fans, the energy we have in the building," Rinne said. "I'm still feeling confident. I feel comfortable out there. I do the same preparations as I always do before the games."
Laviolette said any decision on who would start would come after talking with his coaching staff.
“I think any good staff communicates,” said Laviolette. “Ultimately there’s a decision made. When the decision is made, it’s my decision.”
The puck drops shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday for Game 3. The game can be seen on NBC Sports Network.
Channel 4 will air Smashville Goes 4 the Cup at 6:30 p.m.
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