Originally written on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 4/6/12

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 05: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on November 5, 2009 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Predators 4-0. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators shut out the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Thursday night. With the win, the Predators move into fourth spot in the Western Conference standings, one point ahead of the Detroit Red Wings.  Nashville now controls its own destiny in the fight for home ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with one game remaining on the schedule.

Francis Bouillon and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Predators. Rinne made 28 saves.

“It is better to start [the playoffs] here. It is nice to be home in front of our fans. But it doesn’t matter who we play against or where we play. We just want to be ready to play anybody,” Bouillon said after the win Thursday night.

Nashville’s final game will be played away from Bridgestone Arena. The Predators close out the regular season against the Colorado Avalanche. One year ago, the Predators had an opportunity to finish in fourth place but lost on the second to last day of the regular season, being shutout 2-0 by the St. Louis Blues. Nashville will try to avoid repeating that outcome with a win in Denver.

“Saturday night’s game is going to be huge. We are great at home and the fans have been great the whole year. Hopefully we can come up with a big win in Colorado and start the playoffs at home. Everyone in this room wants to start at home. We have a chance to do it. I am really looking forward to it,” Hornqvist said.

For Bouillon, the key to winning Saturday night’s contest is for no one on the team to take off any shifts.

“It is going to be an important game,” he said. “We want to play the best hockey right now. It is important for us to play 60 minutes.”

Detroit’s 2-1 loss to New Jersey was announced at the game. But the Predators were concerned with their own performance on the ice, not with what Detroit or Chicago were doing elsewhere.

“We didn’t know much. I didn’t know the score in Detroit. We were just worried about winning the game and putting it back in our court. We were just hoping that New Jersey would do us the honor of giving us a chance to get the home ice. We’ve got to go in there [on Saturday] and see if we can get it,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz explained.

Chicago also lost on Thursday night by a 2-1. The Minnesota Wild went to extra time for their fifth straight game, edging the Blackhawks in a shootout. There are a number of scenarios that would result in the Predators claiming home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, including picking up a win or an overtime/shootout loss in Colorado or a Detroit loss of any sort. Detroit plays Chicago on Saturday.

With the Predators win, Rinne picked up his fifth shutout of the season and first since a 3-0 win over Columbus on January 19th.

After scoreless first and second periods, Bouillon opened scoring at 4:28 into the third period.  Picking up his fourth goal of the season, Bouillon says jumping into the play created more offensive chances for Nashville.

“Hornqvist did a great job putting the puck in front of the net. I was in the right place at the right time. It is always nice when the defensemen jump into the play. The forwards like it. It is nice to create a 3-on-2 instead of a 2-on-2,” he said.

With just over 15 minutes left in regulation, the Stars had their season on the line, but the Predators would go up by two goals when Hornqvist picked up his 26th goal of the season with 2:00 minutes remaining in regulation. Despite an empty net as well as being on the man advantage in the final minute of play, the Stars were unable to break Rinne’s shutout with a tally of their own and were eliminated from post-season contention.

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