Double-overtime contest doesn't leave Predators feeling drained

Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 10:55pm

They were winners. So they weren’t winded.

Nashville Predators players said they felt little or no unusual fatigue following Saturday’s 2-1 double-overtime victory in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series with the Vancouver Canucks —the longest game in franchise history.

“It’s a game too; you’re having fun,” center Jerred Smithson said. “That’s what the playoffs are all about. It’s just going out there and giving it your all, whether it takes 60 minutes or in double overtime. It’s fun and you want to be out there.”

The official time of the game was 94:51, which was more than six minutes beyond the previous longest game (88:14 vs. San Jose in 2007), but the actual elapsed time from when the puck dropped until Matt Halischuk scored was three hours, 42 minutes.

Defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber carried the heaviest loads among the skaters. Weber set a franchise record with 42:12 of ice time, 11 seconds more than his partner, Ryan Suter and the most for any player on either side.

“Not badly, actually,” Weber said when asked after the game how he felt. “I’m surprised. I think, maybe, we just got into a rhythm and just kept playing.”

David Legwand was Nashville’s most-used forward with 32:52, second among all forwards to Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler (33:43).

Goalie Pekka Rinne, of course, was on the ice the entire time and got busier as the night went along. Rinne faced more shots in the first overtime period (11) than he did in the second and third combined (nine). Then he saw another seven pucks in the 14:51 of the second overtime period.

“It was easy to stay focused [Saturday] night, especially in the overtime.” Rinne said. “It seemed like they were shooting pucks a little more. That’s always fun when that happens.”

The big save: Part of the reason that the contest lasted as long as it did was because of the save Rinne made against Canucks’ defenseman Kevin Bieksa late in the first overtime. It almost looked like an aborted cartwheel attempt as Rinne dove to his right to stop the shot at the end of a well executed two-on-one with Daniel Sedin.

“I was a little bit fortunate,” Rinne said. “Obviously it was a big save at the time. Sedin made a nice pass to Bieksa, and I was just able to get my blocker and my stick out there.

“It’s sudden death and you try to be ready for every single situation, every single shot and go from there.”

Having allowed 19 goals on 153 shots (an .876 save percentage) in six games against Anaheim, Rinne has given up just two goals on 63 shots (.968) through two games against Vancouver.

“He’s seeing the puck really well right now,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “He was fired up to get this series going, and I can see why, because he’s awesome.”

Through Sunday’s games, Rinne was third in saves among goalies still involved in the playoffs.

“Pekka, obviously, again … what can you say?” Smithson said. “Just a phenomenal effort. He saved our bacon numerous times.”

Quote of note: “We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves here. They’re the President’s Trophy winners. They have an MVP [candidate] and the Art Ross Trophy winner, a Vezina candidate. The list goes on and on. They’re going to make adjustments, they have good coaches over there. We have to make some adjustments.” — O’Brien, on the fact that the series is tied 1-1.

Briefly: Joel Ward had the secondary assist on Suter’s game-tying goal. It was Ward’s third assist and sixth point of the postseason, which tied him with Mike Fisher (three goals, three assists) for the scoring lead. … Nashville is 3-2 in road games this postseason. It was a combined 1-12 in its five previous playoff appearances. …  Sergei Kostitsyn has four shots in two games against Vancouver, which equals the number he had in six games against Anaheim. Nashville’s leading goal scorer during the regular season still has yet to score his first playoff goal.