DENVER So much for Pekka Rinnes relaxing night on the bench.
The Nashville Predators goaltender was summoned into unexpected duty early in the third period when his backup Anders Lindback was hurt on a collision.
Rinne quickly settled into a groove and picked up right where Lindback left off.
The goaltending duo combined to stop 44 shots and lift the playoff-bound Predators to a 6-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Rinne didnt mind the extra work, even if he was enjoying his rare time on the bench, where he joked around with his teammates. He was far more concerned with the condition of Lindback, who collided with Cody McLeod after scrambling back to the net.
Its always unfortunate when you see your partner get a little bit banged up and he has to come out, Rinne said. That was just the situation. The only thing Im worried about is Lindy. Hopefully that was just something minor and hes fine. Thats my biggest worry.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz didnt think Lindbacks upper-body injury was serious and listed him day to day.
It was disappointing (he didnt finish), Trotz said. Anders played well for us early. He made some big saves.
Other than that, everything went quite smoothly for the Predators.
Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand, Craig Smith, Roman Josi, Brandon Yip and Matt Halischuk all had goals for Nashville, which clinched the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference before the game when Central Division rival Detroit lost to Chicago in a shootout.
The Predators open the playoffs next week by hosting the Red Wings.
Cant wait to start, said Rinne, who had 10 saves in just over 17 minutes of work.
With nothing more to gain in the season finale, the Predators rested some of their regulars, including forwards Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat and Mike Fisher.
In all, the team benched a combined 65 goals, but it hardly mattered as their offense didnt miss a beat as 12 different Predators had at least a point.
Even more, this contest got some players back on track. Legwand scored his first goal in nine games, while Smith also ended a long scoring drought. Josi, a defenseman, even got into the act, sending a wrist shot past Jean-Sebastien Giguere for his first goal since Feb. 27.
Weve got a lot of depth here. We can score on all cylinders, which is nice, Smith said. Weve got a lot of guys going right now, which is a good feeling. Anyone whos in, were comfortable with.
Nashville finished with 104 points this season, marking the fourth time in franchise history the team has eclipsed the century barrier. But heres a first: The Predators finally finished ahead of Detroit in the division.
Theyre a solid team and obviously a big rival, said Yip, who scored a third-period goal against his former team. It will be a great series.
Matt Duchene scored the lone goal for an Avalanche team that struggled down the stretch and missed the playoffs for a second straight season.
Colorado was officially eliminated from postseason contention on Thursday night with a 5-2 loss to last-place Columbus. In contention down the stretch, the Avalanche dropped six of their last seven to seal their fate.
They now head into the offseason with quite a few decisions to make. First and foremost, whether to bring back coach Joe Sacco, whos in the final year of his contract.
Want to return next season?
It is not the time to talk about my situation. I would rather talk about the team, Sacco said.
The Avalanche may be saying farewell to captain Milan Hejduk. Hes maintained for days that hes on the fence about returning for a 14th season.
Just in case he doesnt return, the team recognized Hejduk, one of the last remaining links to the Stanley Cup days, by playing a video tribute in the first period. Hejduk ranks second in franchise history in games (991). Hes also among the teams all-time leaders in goals (371), points (794) and assists (423).
I havent made up my mind, Hejduk said after the game. This was a disappointing way to end the year. ... Were disappointed that we didnt make the playoffs.
Although Nashville was hitting on all cylinders most of the evening, Trotz was still a little displeased with the effort. He thought the Predators were a little too loose for his liking, especially with the playoffs around the corner.
We gave up 45 shots. You dont want to go into the playoffs like that, Trotz said. We had some guys that took the night off, which I didnt like. We were a little bit too casual.