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Streaking goaltenders collide as Ducks visit Preds
(Sports Network) - Viktor Fasth's incredible start to his NHL career began when he was able to outduel Pekka Rinne, one of the top goaltenders in the league, three weeks ago.
The two streaking netminders appear headed towards a rematch on Saturday evening when Fasth's red-hot Anaheim Ducks visit Rinne and the Nashville Predators.
A 30-year-old rookie, Fasth has won each of his first seven decisions, the longest winning streak to begin an NHL career since Dan Ellis' seven-game run with Dallas and Nashville from Feb. 18, 2004-Dec. 1, 2007.
Fasth, the starting goaltender for the Swedish national team at the 2012 World Championship and winner of two straight Honken Trophies as the Swedish Elite League's Goaltender of the Year, signed a one-year deal with the Ducks on May 21 and has gone 7-0-0 with a 1.78 goals against average and .932 save percentage in eight appearances.
That run began with his NHL debut on Jan. 26 at home versus the Predators and he made 19 saves while stopping all three skaters faced in the shootout for a 3-2 win. The performance helped Anaheim snap a six-game skid versus Nashville.
Rinne was solid with 20 saves through overtime, but was beaten by Corey Perry in the second round for the only shootout tally of the game.
Fasth, meanwhile, has made three straight starts with Jonas Hiller nursing a lower body injury and could start again on Saturday despite having gotten the call in Friday's 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Swede made 26 stops as the Ducks snapped an eight-game losing streak in Detroit. Fasth also inched closer to Ray Emery's NHL record of nine straight winning decisions to begin a career, set with Ottawa from Jan. 8, 2003-Nov. 29, 2005.
Fasth got plenty of support, with Andrew Cogliano and Bobby Ryan scoring 48 seconds apart inside the opening two minutes of the third period to snap a 2-2 tie. Cogliano added an empty-net score, while Matt Beleskey and Perry also tallied as Anaheim won its third straight and for the seventh time in eight games.
"When (the Red Wings) do make mistakes you have to capitalize," said Cogliano. "We made a couple of plays we were able to intercept and come the other way with."
The Ducks wrap a six-game road trip on Saturday looking to win for the first time in five trips to Nashville. The Preds have won six of their past eight at home in this series and enter with Rinne in outstanding form.
The netminder has logged back-to-back shutouts and has three in his last four starts, making 19 saves in Thursday's 3-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Rinne leads the NHL with three shutouts and has moved to 6-3-3 with a 1.61 GAA and .938 save percentage this year. He has not allowed a goal in his last 137:41 of game action, which is 11:23 shy of his career best.
"I think right now I am just getting results," Rinne said. "I am feeling good, but the team in front of me, they are playing so good."
Nashville looked like it might waste Rinne's efforts before Gabriel Bourque, Nick Spaling and Mike Fisher all scored in the third period, lifting the Preds to their second straight win. The club also moved to 6-1-1 in its past eight and concludes a four-game homestand on Saturday.
Two of Rinne's 28 career shutouts have come versus the Ducks, who he is 9-2-3 against in 14 career meetings with a 1.95 GAA and .931 save percentage.
02/16 10:09:24 ET