Originally written on Inside Smashville  |  Last updated 4/16/12

On Tuesday night, the Nashville Predators will try to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Detroit Red Wings. The Predators have never enjoyed a 3-1 stranglehold on a series in the playoffs.

Sunday afternoon marked the first time the Predators had ever won a playoff game in Detroit. In 6 previous attempts Nashville went 0-for-6 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Predators 3-2 win over the Red Wings on Sunday was largely due to the stellar play of netminder Pekka Rinne, who picked up his 10th postseason win in Game 3. Rinne’s 41-save performance kept the Predators in lead of the game as Detroit controlled most of the third period throwing 19 pucks on goal in the final frame alone.

This past season, Rinne had a 5-0-2 record, including a 1.66 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage in seven games where Nashville’s netminder faced 40+ shots on goal. One such regular season contest was on December 15th when Nashville edged the Red Wings by a 4-3 score. Rinne is also 2-0 this postseason when making at least 35 saves. The 29-year old also had no regulation losses during the regular season when facing at least 35 shots on goal, posting a 14-0-2 record during those games.

On offense, the line of Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexander Radulov and David Legwand showed up for the second game in a row for Nashville. Andrei has points in back-to-back contests with a goal in Game 2 and an assist on Weber’s power play goal at the start of Game 3. Radulov has two assists in the series.

After Nashville’s 3-2 loss in Game 2, head coach Barry Trotz called Kostitsyn a bull and said he believed the line would be a factor going forward in the series.

While neither player has broken out to control the offensive production in a game for Nashville, in a series where each contest has been a low-scoring 3-2 decision, Kostitsyn and Radulov have been instrumental parts to Nashville’s offense thus far during the series.

David Legwand has centered Kostitsyn and Radulov in the first three games of the series. However, The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper wrote an online update from practice on Monday stating that Legwand has been moved out of the top-six forward position and replaced with Nick Spaling. Legwand centered Matt Halischuk and Brandon Yip during the practice. There is no indication if that lineup will actually see the ice on Tuesday night, though Trotz did say he was looking to change things up.

Only one line remained unchanged during Monday’s practice. The top line of Mike Fisher centering Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn still skated together. Erat assisted on Kevin Klein’s goal Sunday afternoon. Kostitsyn picked up the game-winning goal late in the third period. The offensive production during Game 3 was the first time Nashville’s top line got on the scoresheet in the series.

After Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena, the Predators return home for Game 5 of the series at Bridgestone Arena on Friday night. If Nashville wins on Tuesday, the Predators will have an opportunity to eliminate Detroit on Friday, punching their ticket for the Western Conference semi-finals for the second consecutive season. If Detroit ties the series 2-2 on Tuesday, the Predators will try to take a 3-2 series lead in Game 5 on Friday night.

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